Brief History of Kimberton CSA The first in Pennsylvania
Kimberton CSA is a ten acre biodynamic/organic mixed vegetable market garden currently in its 28th year. The first CSA in Pennsylvania, this garden was started in 1987 by interested members of the community, Kimberton Waldorf School, and Barbara & Kerry Sullivan (the farmers) looking for ways of doing business that would best support the local community and local agriculture and provide for the needs of everyone involved, including those of our environment. Along with the members' support, the Sullivan's invested a significant amount of their own capital to start the CSA garden and lease land from the school. Although initially conceived of as more of a Co-op in nature, the CSA was set up as a simple sole-proprietorship. This put the responsibility for the CSA on the shoulders of the Sullivans. After 15 years of service, the Sullivans sold all the moveable assets of the business to Birgit Landowne who had worked as an intern at Kimberton CSA for two prior years. Since 2002 Birgit & her husband Erik have continued where the Sullivans left off. The farm currently provides fresh vegetables for approximately 220 households. This arrangement has worked so well that today there are over 1500 CSA's in the country and dozens in South/East PA alone.
The Land A Special Place
The CSA garden is 10 acres of silt loam soil, leased from the Kimberton Waldorf School, and is located at 415 W. Seven Stars Road in the town of Kimberton, 19442 in Chester County, Pennsylvania. We also rent 70 acres of pasture a few miles up the road, some of which we include in our vegetable growing rotation. Kimberton Waldorf School owns approximately 400 acres. This land has been in agriculture since at least William Penn's time. We have found arrowheads from Native Americans on the land as well. The land was first converted to biodynamic agricultural practices in the 1930's when Ehrenfried Pfeiffer came over from Germany to help implement the agricultural teachings of Rudolf Steiner. Prior to the start of the CSA garden, the 10 acre parcel was part of the biodynamic/organic dairy farm previously known as Kimberton Farms. Today ten acres are leased to Birgit & Erik Landowne dba Kimberton CSA, while most of the remaining land is leased to Seven Stars Farm Inc., a biodynamic/organic dairy which produces the popular Seven Stars Organic Yogurt. Nearby French Creek, blessed with an exceptional water quality rating by the US Geological Service, supplies us with a steady source of irrigation water.
What does Biodynamic mean? How is it different from Organic?
The CSA garden is farmed biodynamically. This means that, in addition to following the rules set forth for organic certification and avoiding the use of toxic chemicals for fertility and pest control, (some allowable organic pest controls are used, please ask us we are happy to talk with you about any questions), specific Biodynamic methods and careful stewardship of the land are practiced to ensure the long-term health of the farm's soil, plants, and animals. Rather than merely avoiding, as much as possible, practices that are harmful to the environment, biodynamic agriculture aims to revitalize the earth through the use of special sprays and composts that are prepared using homeopathic herbal remedies. The aim is to allow for a better flow of the energy that is radiating from the cosmos (Sun, moon, and stars) through the earth and guide it into the plant thus maximizing its vitality and that of those who consume the plant.
The Garden Crew Who does all the work?
Birgit and Erik Landowne are the permanent gardeners. Three interns work alongside us from mid-March through mid-November. These interns receive a place to live, food from the garden, and a small stipend in exchange for a season of very hard work. In the bargain they begin to learn the skills and gain the experience necessary to succeed in their own farming endeavors. Although not easy, this continues to be one of the best ways to provide training for a new generation of alternative farmers.
The Members Can anyone join?
The CSA offers up to 150 shares to the local community. Most of our members live in the local area; however there are some from outlying cities such as Reading and Philadelphia who make the trip each week for their veggies. Also 70 shares go to a peace ashram in DC, who are committed to food that caries as much vital energy as possible. They have formed a CSA group and a driver comes out once a week.
The Core Group Community Outreach!
Every member is welcome to join the CSA Core Group. This group fluctuates in numbers and in frequency of meetings, according to the needs of the CSA, and the interests of the current members. The Core Group is responsible for organizing community building events among the membership. In past years, the core group has organized educational programs, workshops, and festivals. If you enjoy planning fun times, check out a core group meeting.
Volunteers and Workshares Lend a hand!
Anyone is welcome to lend a hand on the farm for as much or as little time as you wish, on as regular or irregular a schedule as you wish. Just come find the garden crew, and we'll put you straight to work. No need to make prior arrangements. For those willing to make a commitment, we offer a chance for anyone to reduce their financial obligation to the CSA by coming out on a harvest morning (7am-12pm) and helping us bring in the harvest. We will refund that week's share cost to you at the end of the day.
All produce is picked up at the farm. Members take what their own family can use. We offer full shares, bi-weekly shares, and shared shares. Some of the crops are U-pick only; while in season they may be harvested by members on any day, at any time. The garden is always open and members are encouraged to visit as often as they like. Children should be supervised at all times. We try to make the garden as safe as possible, but it is not possible to make it childproof. There are always sharp tools, equipment and electric fences to watch for.