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Around The Grange
Lebanon pushing farm-consumer partnership
 

By Paul Petrone (Norwich Bulletin 4/1/10)

  APRIL 4, 2010 --

Lebanon is offering up to $1,000 to farmers for forming or expanding a community-supported agriculture program, or CSA.

"It's part of our plan to promote agriculture," Town Planner Phillip Chester said. "It brings the people back knowing who their farmer is and where their food comes from."

The program allows people to buy a share of a farm's product at the beginning of a season. Throughout the year, the shareholder collects their product directly from the farmer, with their take dependent on the farm's performance.

"Take, for example, if you were to put money for tomatoes," Chester said. "You would pay a certain amount of money up front for a share of the farm's tomatoes and collect a certain amount of tomatoes each week as the season goes on."

If the farmer fails to produce a crop, the consumer will receive nothing, Chester said. But if the farmer has a strong year with a product, a shareholder will collect more than expected.

"I like the idea of CSAs and plan to start one within a year or two," said Mark Reynolds, owner of Oakleaf Dairy, which produces goat milk and cheese. "That being said, I don't understand why the town needs to give me money to create one."

Incentive

Reynolds approves of the town promoting the idea of the agricultural programs and giving information to farmers on how to create one. He disagreed with the town giving money, arguing the nominal start-up grant should not be an incentive to begin one.

"Anybody who wants to start a CSA isn't going to do so for a couple of hundred dollars from the Department of Agriculture," he said. "I don't have the approach of getting as much federal money as possible to farm."

No grocery store

The program could be popular in Lebanon, which has 14,000 acres of active farmland - the most in the state - and no close, full-size grocery store, said Chester.

Currently, West Green Farm is the only Lebanon farm that has the program. Other programs have become popular throughout Connecticut and New York, with those areas seeing ten-fold increases in the agricultural programs since 2006, according to the Department of Agriculture.

Applications are due by April 30, where they will be reviewed by the Lebanon Conservation Commission, according to a town press release.

 

 
 
 

 
     
     
       
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