How This CSA Started By A Chemistry Teacher May Be The Future Of Local Agriculture


Published:

All photos of Nook and Cranny Farm by Aaron Fernando/Shareable

Quietly nestled on the side of a hill in the rural town of Caroline, New York, just a short drive from Ithaca, Nook and Cranny Farm is well-suited to its name. Its owner, Bob Tuori, has owned the plot of land that it sits on for almost two decades. Over the years, he has grown it into a prime example of a community-focused intensive, efficient, and sustainable small farm.

“My intention at first was only to be a homesteader — just to feed my family,” Tuori says. “And then quickly we had more than we could use so I started going to farmers’ markets. ... It just progressively got comfortably bigger each season.” Tuori’s farm is particularly notable for a few reasons. Not only does it utilize a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business model to supply high-quality produce to over 60 families in the region and employ people from the area, but it does so with only four acres of arable land, by using it as sustainably and efficiently as possible.

Add this to that the fact that Tuori himself is a full-time high school chemistry teacher — as he has been for the duration Nook and Cranny’s existence — and you get a close-up view of what a local, citizen-led agricultural revolution might look like. In a country where far too many people still do not have access to nutritional food (see USDA’s interactive atlas of food deserts) small farms like Nook and Cranny that are located in the communities they feed offer much promise in their ability to increase access to high-quality food.

Under the CSA model, residents buy CSA shares from a farm — basically prepaying for the produce of the upcoming season. This way, farmers cover upfront costs without having to take out loans, while residents provide farmers with financial stability in the face of uncertainty and risk, but they also share in the abundance of a good harvest. “That what it is ideally about, to have a community support a farm, and in doing so to pay up front what they can,” Tuori says. “And then on the other hand, the farmer has some responsibility, giving the share of people the best stuff.”

This has become increasingly important in the U.S., where many farmers rely heavily on credit to buy seeds, machinery, and other supplies. Compounding this is the fact that lending to farmers is seen as risky, and interest rates for farm lending have been rising recently. In a world where farmers, both nationally and globally constantly, find themselves in financially precarious positions, the CSA model offers significant relief and financial stability to farmers. “It’s a very viable business model because you get most of the money up front,” Tuori says.

On the sustainability side, crop rotation is crucial to soil health but it also makes more sense practically. Tuori says he started growing melons because it coincided with the summer months when he didn’t have to teach, but it soon became necessary to diversify. “It became untenable to keep an acre or two of melons going on a small plot because you can only rotate so much,” he says. “After two or three years of that, there was a lot of disease and a lot of insects, and it didn’t seem like a reasonable model to just grow a couple things. On a small plot of land it seems more reasonable to have an incredible array so that you can keep rotating and keep diseases and insects, to some extent, under control.”

Globally, small-scale farming feeds 70 percent of the world, and does so without the immense environmental impacts and food waste attributed industrial agriculture. Interestingly, smaller farms like Nook and Cranny might be inherently more sustainable than large-scale ones in part due to physical considerations.

Tuori explained that his decision not to use heavy machinery like tractors was ethical, but also practical. Since the farm uses all available space for growing and is surrounded by other properties and a road, there’s no turnaround space for a large tractor. This increases the efficiency of the land-use. “Being a tractor-driven farm would minimize at least half of the growing space I could use,” Tuori says. “Using these little two-wheel tractors, you can use every inch. You can grow right up to the forest line in any direction.”

For those considering starting a project like this, Tuori says he’s a proponent of starting small, while having some other primary source of income so it is, “not really stress-inducing and so that you know you can pull it off.” Yet understanding that expansion is possible or even likely, and planning for it is a good idea. “Planning a plot of land and how you would design permanent beds in an efficient manner would be something that’d be good to do up front that I didn’t, and I just would have to keep changing plans over the years,” he says.

When asked about why he started Nook and Cranny, Tuori says, “I’ve been searching to be a farmer since I was probably four years old.” But he mentioned it took some time before he could do it. “There wasn’t really small-scale agriculture accessible for people, especially if you lived in a city. So there was no role model. There was no obvious way to pursue it.” These days, that isn’t a problem anymore — the business models and role models are out there.

Aaron Fernando is a community currency consultant who has worked with multiple community currencies across the United States, and is also a writer focusing on local movements, new economy initiatives, and behavioral economics. Follow Aaron on Twitter @00AaronFernando or at aaronfernando.com.

This article was republished from Shareable.

See also:
Turning Solar Sites Into Pollinator-Friendly Habitats Is The Sweetest Idea
This 110-Acre Homestead Runs Without Fossil Fuels

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

October 15, 2018

The working week begins under promising skies. Mental faculties are sharp and morning traffic flows smoothly. The industrious Capricorn Moon is favorably aligned with Mercury and Venus in Scorpio, a celestial “whistle while you work” signature…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

October 2018

October 14 - 18 Join the acclaimed Grandmaster William C. C. Chen for an intensive five-day Tai Chi Chuan Fall Retreat. Knowledge of the Yang-style short form is a requirement for participation....

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Website »

More information

October 14 - November 19 60 PDAs A 36 day retreat in which acclaimed Qigong master, Junfeng Li, will meditate and practice not only Sheng Zhen Gong daily, but will also share traditions that...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Lunare is open to magickal vendors and holistic practitioners wishing to offer their spiritual goods and services to an audience interested in all things mystical. General admission to...

Cost: Free general admission, lecture tickets $15

Where:
Hunt Memorial Building
6 Main St
Nashua, NH  03064
View map »


Sponsor: Lunare Mystics
Telephone: 603-801-2113
Contact Name: Alyssa O'Mara
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join Psychic Medium Diane Lewis for gallery style readings. Diane will be connecting to spirit delivering messages from those who have crossed over. Don't miss this free event sponsored by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Hopkinton Public Library
13 Main Street
Hopkinton, MA, MA  01748
View map »


Sponsor: Hopkinton Public Library
Telephone: 617-645-6415
Contact Name: Diane Lewis
Website »

More information

Break emotional patterns that keep you stuck in the pain of addictive habits. Heal mental trauma through physical practices involving movement, breath, and meditation.

Where:
Yoga at the Ashram
368 Village Street
Millis, MA  02054
View map »


Sponsor: Yoga At The Ashram
Telephone: (508) 376-4525
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

With Carrie Rowan Wednesday evenings at 7pm, a 4-week introductory class that teaches quick energy medicine tools, mini meditations to help moms/dads and caregivers reduce stress and stay calm...

Where:
Fitzgerald Institute
Northboro, MA


Telephone: (508) 273-2610
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

October 18 - 21 Magnetic-harmonic vibrational therapist, Jay Emmanuel, A.K., N.S.,V.M. shares powerful energy techniques that use the forces of sounds produced by the human voice in combination...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Retreat Center
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

Course participant experiences:  “After this course, I learned how to recognize where I hold my tension and release it.”  “My favorite part of the program is the...

Cost: $650

Where:
CHA Center for Mindfulness & Compassion
26 Central Street
2nd Floor Community Room
Somerville, MA  02143
View map »


Sponsor: CHA Center for Mindfulness & Compassion
Telephone: 617-591-6132
Contact Name: Bridget Kiley
Website »

More information

The H.E.A.R.T. Program® (Health Empowerment and Real Transformation) is an innovative holistic curriculum addressing the current health crisis and epidemics of obesity, heart disease, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Michelle Caron
Website »

More information

Daily practice for peace, healing, Christ mindedness, meditation, awakening.

Where:
Milton, MA


Telephone: 617-696-5685
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

14 CEU Credits for Massage/Bodywork Therapists! Oct 19-21: Chi Nei Tsang And...pre-weekend women only event: Oct 18: Women’s Sexual Ecstacy - 1-6pm/6CEUs Chi Nei...

Cost: Please see our website

Where:
Eastover Estate & Eco Village
430 East St.
Lenox, MA  01240
View map »


Telephone: 866-264-5139
Contact Name: Yingxing Wang
Website »

More information

October 19 - 20 (Workshop runs 10-5 both days) When the phase of the Sixth Sun began with the eclipse of July 11, 2010 it was time, according to Sergio’s teacher, for the ancient...

Where:
Natick Mariott Courtyard
Natick, MA


Contact Name: Sandy Corcoran
Website »

More information

With Yogi Amandeep Adi Shakti represents all divine energies. When activated, she manifests herself as creativity, prosperity, wisdom. Rare workshop uniting ancient science of Kundalini...

Where:
Yoga at the Ashram
368 Village St
Millis, MA  02054
View map »


Telephone: (508) 376-4525
Website »

More information

Connect with the ancient wisdom of yoga. Learn how yoga practices are designed to address life’s problems, such as work stress, relationship difficulties, and common mental health issues. Be...

Cost: $40

Where:
Yogalife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

No previous experience is required for this Friday evening event. It is essential for students who are unfamiliar with using the Pathway Prayer Process© and who plan to attend the 2-day...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom - New location late Summer '18
386 Merrimack Street
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Bee Kind Music Class with Carrie Rowan inspires a love to music in little ones. 10am on Fridays for 8 weeks at Playtown Express in Southboro. To register call (508) 480-0022 or...

Where:
Playtown Express
150 Cordaville Road
Southboro, MA
View map »


Telephone: 508-273-2610
Website »

More information

The class is a combination of qi gong, yoga, meditation, and relaxation followed by a cup of healing tea. The class, developed by Korean enlightened master Ilchi Lee, is based on Sundo, a...

Cost: $10

Where:
Divine Paradigm
58b Macy St
Amesbury, MA  01913
View map »


Contact Name: Brad Fanger

More information

“For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.” — Sanskrit Proverb Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the healing...

Cost: $40 (limited hardship rates available)

Where:
Museum of Modern Renaissance
115 College Avenue
Somerville, MA  02144
View map »


Sponsor: HolotropicMA
Contact Name: Allen Howell M.Ed. LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Refresh, refocus, simplify. Discover easy tools and strategies to prepare for an incredible holiday season. 8:00–8:30 Registration open 8:30–8:35 Welcome 8:35–9:20 Circle...

Cost: $99

Where:
Women’s Health Resource Center
9 Hanover Street
Lebanon, NH  03766
View map »


Sponsor: Almstrom Financial, Green Mt. Hypnosis, Patti Friedman, Eva Loomis
Telephone: (603) 650-2600
Contact Name: Women’s Health Resource Center

More information

October 20 - 21 Early Bird Special! Register before September 30 and save $45! Prerequisite: Be familiar with accessing the Akashic Records through the Pathway Prayer Process© either...

Cost: $350 before September 30

Where:
Circles of Wisdom - New location late Summer '18
386 Merrimack Street
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

See all that is new at Dragonfly! Come and meet our new practitioners and teachers and learn about the innovative holistic modalities that are being offered. Participate in free classes, see...

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Center
176 Jackson Rd.
Devens, MA  MA
View map »


Telephone: 978-487-7181
Website »

More information

October 20 & 21, 10:30am-6:30pm Practices and Approaches for PTSD, Depression and Anxiety with Erin Byron, MA, E-RYT500, C-IAYT, YACEP, Licensed Mental Health Professional Experiment with...

Cost: $325

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

The shamanic rattle is a sacred tool that can be used to shift into an altered state of consciousness, sense and track energy, and heal the energetic body, which contains the codes underlying...

Cost: $40

Where:
Akasha Studio
20 Birch Street
Roslindale, MA  02131
View map »


Sponsor: Miriam Katz, Shamanic Healer
Telephone: 617-545-5142
Contact Name: Miriam Katz
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags