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CSAs take root in Halifax

Healthier than a parking lot. (Michael Cestnik photo)

For a place blasted by icy winds much of the year, Halifax has a strong tradition of home-grown food. Some people may be familiar with the “CSA box,” which arrives once a week during the summer months. They might be less familiar with the longer name: Community Supported Agriculture.

Customers sign up with a farm and buy a share of their seasonal produce, which entitles them to a weekly basket of fresh fruits and vegetables. Generally, the growing season runs from late June until early October. There are also a few farms in Halifax that deliver a winter bounty of root vegetables. There are roughly 12 CSAs that deliver to the Halifax region, a number that is growing each year.

Michelle Yorke, who recently purchased her first share in a friendʼs farm, says she loves her CSA box.

“The food is so fresh,” says Yorke. “You know where it comes from and it’s a great option for students who don’t have their own backyard.”

Urban agriculture has shown no sign of slowing down. Community gardens have begun sprouting up across town. A new farm opened up this summer at the corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street, but few people know it exists.

Common Roots Urban Farm is a joint project with the Capital Health Region. It is a multi-purpose and centrally located urban farm. They get to “blend art and green space and education,” says Jayme Melrose, project coordinator for the farm.

Melrose says “the idea behind the market garden is that when we produce together we learn more and we grow more.” Plus, she adds, “It is healthier than a parking lot!”

The community has responded enthusiastically, from the Halifax police and the Atlantica Hotel, to the Dalhousie Medical Student Society and the Dal society the Loaded Ladle, which sources local, organic food whenever possible. Community groups have also come out in full force to support this new initiative.

More than 20 organizations participate in the Common Roots farm, which leaves plenty of space for individuals to get involved as volunteers.

The project doesn’t just benefit participants and customers: any surplus vegetables produced during harvest time are donated to the local food bank.

“All eaters count,” says Melrose.

Steph Boulton, organizer for the community garden at the Dalhousie Womenʼs Center, is another proponent of local food.

“Food is really what keeps us living. It is the cornerstone to why we exist,” she says.

“Food really brings people back to their roots.”

To get involved:

– Common Roots Urban Farm has a weekly drop-in session every Friday from 3 p.m.to 6 p.m. It is located at the southeast corner of Quinpool Road and Robie Street. They are also holding an open house on Sept. 27 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

– The community garden at the Dalhousie Womenʼs Center is having a fall mulching party to prepare the soil for planting on Sept. 5, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

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