“Food with the farmer’s face on it”–Philosophical translation of Teikei, the original CSA model.
“CSA is a relatively recent phenomenon in the United States and Canada. A CSA equivalent, called teikei, which literally translated means “partnership” or “cooperation”, was first developed in Japan by a group of women concerned with the use of pesticides, the increase in processed and imported foods and the corresponding decrease in the farm population. The more philosophical translation for teikei is “food with the farmer’s face” (Van En 1992). In 1965, these women initiated a direct, cooperative relationship in which local farmers were supported by consumers on an annual basis.
Around the same time, a similar model started in Europe. Instead of being formed by concerned consumers, however, in Europe the new model was an outgrowth of biodynamic farming, a process developed by Rudolph Steiner in the early 20th Century. Biodynamic farming is based on the idea that all living organisms—including land, plants, and animals—are dependant on one another. Cooperative farmers in Holland and Switzerland developed models similar to CSA as an economic and social component to these ideas of interdependence.
In 1984, Jan Vander Tuin brought the concept of CSA to North America from Europe. Jan had co-founded a community-supported agricultural project named Topanimbur, located near Zurich, Switzerland. He introduced the idea to Robyn Van En at Indian Line Farm in S. Egremont, Massachusetts and the CSA concept in North America was born.”
According to the 2007 USDA Agriculture Census, about 12,500 farms were marketing through CSA. The 2012 USDA Agriculture Census is in progress, but I’ll post those numbers when they’re available. There are 95 CSA farms serving Minnesota according to the MN Department of Agriculture Minnesota Grown Directory (these are paid-for listings) and in 2012 there were about the same number listed in the Land Stewardship Project’s CSA Directory (also a paid-for listing). The numbers are growing as more and more people want to be truly connected to their food!