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

January 17, 2019

Hearts and minds make acrobatic leaps and contortions throughout the day. The Moon is in Gemini and nearing the full phase. A T-square configuration includes the Moon, Venus, Jupiter and Neptune. Heartstrings play loud and clear. Feelings are intense, at…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2019

Learn Reiki to awaken your healing hands to care for yourself, your loved ones and pets. Facilitated by Lou Orsan, Reiki Shihan (Master-Teacher) This one-day class covers the basic...

Cost: $150

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

This class meets 4 times: January 13th, February 24th, March 24th, April 7th The Eclectic Institute of Aromatherapy and Herbal Studies offers a comprehensive hands-on training in the art and...

Cost: $625 plus a material fee of $50

Where:
Misty Meadows Herbst Center
183 Wednesday Hill Rd
Lee, NH  03861
View map »


Sponsor: Misty Meadow Herbal Center
Telephone: 603-659-7211
Contact Name: Wendy Snow Fogg
Website »

More information

With Amy Bernier In this empowering workshop we will explore the innate intelligence of our gut, “the second brain”. We will use yoga postures and breath work to refine our digestive...

Cost: $40

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East. Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

Instructor:  Peyton Pugmire Adult level Come together in a warm and uplifting space to get creative, connect, and breathe! At each meeting, we will have fun making a meaningful craft...

Cost: $45

Where:
Creative Spirit
80 Washington Street
Marblehead, MA  01945
View map »


Sponsor: Creative Spirit
Telephone: 781-797-0389
Contact Name: Peyton Pugmire
Website »

More information

One of the most mysterious and magickal of the archangels, Uriel, has a variety of different and conflicting roles in angelic lore. In The Book of Enoch he is one of humanity’s advocates...

Cost: $45

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


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

More information

World famous seminars (www.understandingofmusic.com) turns beginners into musicians, revitalizes and inspires even pro musicians.

Where:
Boston, MA


Telephone: (781) 599-1476
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Sherri Snyder-Roche. This yoga workshop will explore self-compassion, self-love and pushing through discomfort to help your recovery process. Recovery from divorce, eating disorders,...

Cost: $95 for 6 weeks or $17 drop in

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 E. Hartford Avenue, Unit A
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Show More...
Show Less...

Deepen Your Practice DYP-30 Hour Yoga Alliance Course January–May 2019 5 Saturdays, 10am–4pm 1/19, 2/2, 3/30, 4/27, 5/18 Looking to deepen your practice but a 200 Hour training...

Cost: $599

Where:
KJ Fitness
Tewksbury, MA


Sponsor: Relax and Recharge With Chuck
Contact Name: Chuck
Website »

More information

January 19–20 With Patty Collinsworth Weekend class hours: Saturday, 10–5pm and Sunday, 10–5pm Learn how to open the Akashic Records for yourself and others in this...

Cost: $170

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


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

More information

The Eclectic Institute of Aromatherapy and Herbal Studies offers a comprehensive hands-on training in the art and science of Aromatherapy. This course covers the...

Cost: $550

Where:
The Soul Purpose
1225 Gar Highway
Swansea, MA  02777
View map »


Sponsor: The Soul Purpose
Telephone: 774-264-1329
Contact Name: Jessica Kozak
Website »

More information

Join nationally known psychic medium/spiritual counselor, Diana Harris, for a mediumship gallery. Diana is a bridge – a conduit between heaven and Earth. Ms. Harris will answer your questions...

Cost: $70

Where:
private office
North Andover, MA  01845


Sponsor: Diana Harris
Telephone: 978-973-6637
Contact Name: Diana Harris
Website »

More information

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