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How the CSA idea bore fruit locally
The birth of the CSA movement.

Date published: 10/5/2012

MY WIFE, ELLEN, and I first met Stavroula Conrad, Heidi Lewis and DeLaura Padovan at the Cosner Park community center sometime during the late '90s. We were giving a talk about some aspect of farming to a group of farmers.

Afterward we were approached by these three articulate young ladies with very engaging smiles. The best part about giving pep talks about farming is the eclectic collection of people you meet.

They introduced themselves and said they wanted to start a CSA in the Fredericksburg area. The first thought that went through my mind was that they must be in disguise, because they didn't look like they were representing the Confederate States of America.

I had never heard of community supported agriculture, but Stavroula explained it to us enthusiastically in great detail. It is always a gift to learn.

I asked her what her long-term goal was concerning the CSA business. She said, "There would be CSA growers dotting the local land to feed the local people."

What an extraordinary concept, I thought.

I explained to her that at that time I was going to four different farmers markets--seven days a week--selling to chain stores and restaurant groups, running a daily roadside stand and selling pick-your-own pumpkins and cut-your-own Christmas trees.

However, my long-term goal was to one day (it occurred in 2010 with the advent of my CSA) sell 99 percent of my fruit and vegetables at my farm location only. Stavroula said they needed someone to do eggs for their CSA.

I asked my daughter Jessica (she already had a few chickens) if she would be interested in selling eggs to the Fredericksburg CSA. She jumped at it.

The organizers of the Fredericksburg CSA first brought the CSA concept here in 1995 and their first harvest was in 1997. Most of the CSAs in this area got their start either directly or indirectly from the Fredericksburg CSA. The Fredericksburg area is truly blessed, with more CSAs and farmers markets than many other areas.

Stavroula Conrad, Heidi Lewis and Delaura Padovan, the King George market manager, were and still are ahead of their time. They had a dream that has become reality and continues to grow bigger all the time.

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