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

June 18, 2019

An early morning sextile between Saturn and Neptune suggests there is timeless wisdom to be had in dreams. Some folks wake up feeling as though they have been schooled in ancient wisdom while sleeping. Others feel empowered to go after a cherished goal…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

June 2019

Sunday Reiki treatments with Reiki master and practitioner Linda Simons in Brookline, MA. Start your week off on a more balanced note with a Reiki treatment on a Sunday afternoon. Please join me...

Cost: Sliding Scale $25-45

Where:
233 Harvard Street
Suite 36
Brookline, MA  02446
View map »


Telephone: 617-304-2205
Contact Name: Linda Simons
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In celebration of the summer freshness, vitality and joyfulness, this is a spring pamper yourself DIY strawberry body care flower project that you will go home with. Time permitting you may go...

Cost: Pre-reg $35, $40 at the door, materials included

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Sute #A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us for an exclusive workshop and wine tasting. This event is free! Attorney Lisa Cukier, partner at Burns & Levinson, will lead an informative workshop on divorce impacted by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Total Wine & More
321 Speen Street
Apt 802
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Part 1 - Animal Communication Tue 6/18 (10-6pm) and Wed, 6/19 (10-1 pm)  Fri, 6/21 *Optional morning off-site visit w/live animals  Learn how to communicate with your...

Cost: $540

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


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

More information

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

Are you going through a divorce, contemplating divorce, or recovering from divorce? Come to our Divorce Boot Camp, and we’ll help you get into shape! Join us and learn about the finer...

Cost: Free

Where:
Leading Edge Real Estate
2 Mount Vernon Street
Winchester, MA  01890
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

Are you separated, divorced, or in the process of divorce? Whatever stage you are in…just considering divorce or many years post divorce… our Divorce Resource Nights have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Skylark Law & Mediation, PC
9 Main Street
Southborough, MA  01772
View map »


Sponsor: Vesta: Redefining Divorce
Telephone: 508-744-6014
Contact Name: Deanna Coyle
Website »

More information

June 20–23 For more info, please contact us at 336.574.1121 or aptaoffices@polaritytherapy.org www.polaritytherapy.org Keynote Speaker: Christina L. Ross, PhD, BCPP Wake Forest...

Where:
Hilton Long Island/Huntington
Melville, NY


Sponsor: American Polarity Therapy Association
Website »

More information

This development group is for students of mediumship looking to enhance, expand and practice their mediumship abilities. Traditional and progressive mediumship development techniques, topics and...

Cost: $25 per person

Where:
Moth and Moon Studio
173 South River Road
Suite #4
Bedford, NH  03110
View map »


Sponsor: Moth and Moon Studio
Telephone: 603-782-3674
Contact Name: Danielle Dionne
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

June 21–23 Medical Qi Gong for Health Care Practitioners and Tuina Treatment Strategies for Cervical Spine and Lumbar Spine with Bill Helm Join us Friday–Sunday, June...

Cost: See details

Where:
Roots and Wings Yoga and Healing Arts
317 North Main Street
Natick, MA  01760
View map »


Sponsor: Eastern Medicinal Therapies Education Center
Telephone: (617) 435-3586
Contact Name: Lauren Paap
Website »

More information

Networking / Supervision / Support  We are a varied group of holistic practitioners in metro-west Boston and we welcome new practitioner-members. We invite any local practitioner,...

Where:
Lincoln, MA


Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur Annamaria

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Saturday and Sunday, June 22nd & 23rd plus Saturday, July 27th A path to reconnecting with your true self and expressing your full human potential. Summer 2019 Reiki...

Cost: $450

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

At Elemental Energies with Chris Ann and Jeff Come see a wide collection of psychics, artists, healers, etc. from all over New England. Come buy tickets at the large raffle table. 100% of the...

Cost: ​Free admission

Where:
27 N. Berwick Road
Wells, ME
View map »


Telephone: (207) 641-5070
Website »

More information

Explore Your Psychic Awareness In This Fun And Informative Workshop Designed specifically for people who are awakening to their own psychic senses, this class will provide you with personalized,...

Cost: $125

Where:
The Mills at Salmon Falls
3 Front Street
Lower Mill
Rollinsford, NH  03869
View map »


Sponsor: Raylene Sousa Medium LLC
Telephone: 207-956-0220
Contact Name: Raylene Sousa
Website »

More information

Celebrate the longest day of daylight and the summer season with us! Come detox, relax and renew yourself for the summer celebration in our sanctuary! A great way to really dig in a get fully...

Cost: Special 3-15 min services $60 or 1-15 min service $25

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Sute #A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers—Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

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