But CSAs go beyond the plant kingdom. Some local ranchers and farmers offer programs in which you can "buy" livestock. This doesn't mean you have to start feeding your cow or mucking out the pigpen, it just means that you own whatever portion you bought. And when it is slaughtered, you get the meat. For instance, I recently bought into one-half pig, one quarter steer, 12 chickens, one heirloom turkey and a dozen eggs/week from Fresh Start Farm. I make monthly payments and will receive the meat in the fall and winter. The eggs come each week, as long as the hens are laying. Fresh Start is located in Alfalfa and has happy, healthy animals that are kept on pastures and allowed to peck, root, roost, graze, nest and never come anywhere near a feed lot.
Further down the road in Prineville is Windy Acres Dairy, a farm of grass fed cows that offers fresh raw milk and other dairy products as part of its CSA program. For a one-time $35 membership fee and $20/month you own enough of a cow to get a gallon of fresh whole milk from a location in Bend every other week. The cows are brought in and milked twice a day in a spotless milking house and then returned to graze on pastures. The milk is free of any antibiotics and growth hormones. And because there are no pesticides or fertilizers used on the grass, there are none in the milk.
Central Oregon may not be the best place to grow lush vegetables, but it's a great place to raise herds. Getting your meat close to home supports your community, lowers your carbon footprint and alleviates any guilt from supporting big agribusiness' unhealthy and inhumane practices.
To find out more about local CSAs log on to www.eatwild.com. - Laurie J. Rice