When you think about New York City, tall buildings, lights, taxi cabs, fashion, and entertainment most likely comes to mind. What most likely doesn’t come to mind is community supported agriculture also known as farm sharing. According to LocalHarvest.org, over the last 20 years CSA has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.
But just exactly how popular is it if most people don’t even know it exists? Well, maybe not most people, just most minorities who happen to have CSA located right in their own neighborhoods.
Brooklyn is composed of 42.8% whites, 35.7% Hispanics or Latinos, 34.3% blacks, and 10.5% Asians. There are approximately 24 CSA locations in Brooklyn. They are in areas such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Crown Heights, East New York, Flatbush, and Sunset Park; all areas that are mostly populated by minorities.
Keisha Dutes, a radio host also known as Tasty Keish at WBAI 99.5 FM in New York, who resides in Flatbush, says the coordinator of the Bedford-Stuyvesant CSA location kept talking about CSA on Facebook.
“She was trying to get her community in Bedford-Stuyvesant involved. It’s gentrified, but it’s mostly African American. She’s really trying to get new and old residents together. She wants the old residents to be informed too,” says Dutes.
Although, you would assume something so great for the community would be widely advertised, it’s not. Most CSA locations are ran by volunteers and donations and there just isn’t enough money to use for advertisement. “A lot of these places are ran by volunteer hours and donations. So a lot of the money that we pay for the food goes right back to the farmers. So there’s no money for advertising but, that’s really what it needs,” explains Dutes.
The radio host who initially started out at the Bedford-Stuyvesant CSA but now participates at the Flatbush location says that she tries to tell everyone about it because food justice is so important. “Right now it’s word of mouth and I’m telling as many people as I can. I asked the person who was in charge to come on my radio show. If I believe in it, I try to give it as much spotlight as I can,” she said.
Although, the CSA locations do a great job of keeping the people who already participate informed it’s the people who are unaware that need to be kept in the loop. “They do a really good job of letting people who are already in it know because they send emails but, if they get some advertising maybe we could inform more people,” says Dutes. Besides talking about CSA on Twitter and Facebook, Dutes uses her meals as an opportunity to talk about it. She says that every time someone tastes food that was purchased through CSA it’s an opening to the conversation and a great way to inform people.
According to research done by Northwestern University African Americans are more likely than whites to use Twitter. Twenty five percent of African Americans and 19% of Latinos use Twitter compared to 9% of whites. Although, it was reported that African Americans in general are more interested in celebrity and entertainment news perhaps social media websites such as Twitter could be the cornerstone of educating African Americans and other minorities about healthier and more affordable ways to purchase fresh and local food.
For the minorities who are informed about CSA most believe that it’s expensive and that they wouldn’t be able to afford it when it is actually affordable. There’s a sliding pay scale and EBT can also be used. “It depends on which one you go to and the weeks, but they’re similarly priced. It goes by income and family size,” explains Dutes.
For more information regarding CSA in New York City check out: