By Hannah Beasley
“The goal of farming is not the cultivation of crops but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
This is the quote that truly embodies and inspires the work of Laura Beck. Although she is a cultural and geographical world away from the famous Japanese farming revolutionary she likes the idea of people being reconnected with where their food comes from - “food is such a fundamental in our lives yet we take it so much for granted.”
Laura’s Dairy is one of a growing network of community supported agriculture (CSA) projects in NZ. Offering an alternative to modern conglomerate farming formats, CSA’s create opportunities for rewarding partnerships between consumers and farmers. They also keep independent businesses thriving, helps families eat seasonal, local produce and charges farmers and consumers with the responsibility of building stronger, more sustainable and equitable food systems.
“I really want the farm to be part of the cultural life of the community. I love the shift it helps create away from money as a dominating force that can shape our relationships.”
So, what does this all mean in practice? Well, every CSA is slightly different but for Laura and her cows it involves making a weekly payment to her throughout the year – in exchange she cares for the cows, the land and ensures that the raw organic milk that you receive is of the highest nutritional quality. If there is a lean season then you support Laura through it and if there is a bumper production then you may receive a little more of the white gold she produces. There is also the potential for a valuable social and skill exchange - you could help move the cows, bring in they hay or take your kids along to one of popular education sessions Laura runs on the farm.
Perhaps it’s time you got to know “your farmer” and swap the sinking feeling you get when you step into the supermarket for the good old- fashioned feel of picking up produce right from the farm gate.
BENEFITS FOR THE COMMUNITY
- More nutritious and tastier food
- Better cooking and eating habits through using more local, seasonal food
- Increased connection to food growth, supply and use
- Greater meaningful engagement with local community
- Developing new skills and sharing existing ones
BENEFITS FOR THE FARMERS
- More engaged with local community
- Better financial stability
- Ability to develop more sustainable and environmental practices
- Improved animal welfare
- Preserve genetic diversity and resilience