Joining a CSA can be a spiritual experience

  • Animals are raised organically on the Temple-Wilton Community Farm, also known as Four Corners Farm. Here, Andrew Kennedy, one of the farmers, poses with a pig. (Staff Photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Animals are raised organically on the Temple-Wilton Community Farm, also known as Four Corners Farm. (Staff Photo by Ashley Saari)

Monday, April 25, 2016

After submitting our name to a waiting list several years ago, late last month I received an email from Anthony Graham of the Temple-Wilton Community Farm to say they were taking in new members for their CSA, and to contact him if my husband and I were still interested. We were. 

In early April we attended the TWCF annual meeting held at High Mowing school in Wilton. Neither of us had ever visited the school before. The grounds are beautiful; attractive wooden buildings have plenty of room, and there’s that intangible feeling of spirituality — like it’s coming up from the earth beneath our feet.

Having gone to a Waldorf school where I grew up in Sydney, I was well-acquainted with their ideas of education of body, mind and spirit. In Australia, even though some farmers scoffed at the Waldorf biodynamic principles, many still employed the practices, because they couldn’t argue with the result. Food that is biodynamically grown, sings. Carrots are sweeter, onions are more vibrant, it’s as though the vegetables embody a radiance and energetic vitality you can sense.

We walked into the auditorium where the meeting was to be held and noticed the high ceilings with exposed wood beams. The seats were arranged in a circle to accommodate about a hundred people, and a candle sat on a small table in the middle of the circle.

Andrew Arthur, a young man I’d guess to be in his 30s, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, facilitated the meeting. He asked the woman to his right to light the candle and as she did, Andrew set an intention — an invitation to enjoy everyone’s creative input and inspired contributions in the meeting. It was a simple, yet effective, ritual to signify the meeting had begun, to welcome everyone, and to help create a space that honored the spirit.

After a few introductory remarks, Andrew asked that we go around to each person in the room, stating our names and how many years we’d been part of the CSA.

Jamie and I sat in the circle just a few seats to the right of Andrew, so we were some of the first members to speak, and when Jamie said this was our first year, there was a welcoming applause. We soon joined in the clapping to welcome several other new members.

As people shared their names and numbers of years they’d been a member, and some shared short anecdotes, I was amazed at how many people had been part of it for 20 to 30 years. One of the last women to speak took a moment to say, “I want to express how moved I feel that so many people have expressed gratitude to the farmers and for this community. I feel so much gratitude for our farmers too, and for this community, and for all the gratitude being expressed.” Everyone laughed — it wasn’t the first time we laughed there — and I observed plenty of joyful humor unfurl in that room.

I’d read about community supported agriculture and loved the idea of supporting local farmers and knowing exactly where my food was coming from, but I hadn’t realized the TWCF was the oldest continually operating CSA in the country. Lincoln Geiger and Anthony Graham were visionaries and pioneers, and the continued success of this CSA is testament not only to their vision, but also to the commitment and support of the local community.

This CSA is especially appealing to me because, not only are the farmers using organic farming methods, but they also employ biodynamic principles. I don’t profess to fully understand biodynamics, but I do know that it involves an acknowledgment and recognition of the spiritual aspect in working with the earth. Their website states their spiritual aims:

To farm with methods that make the annual renewal of life on earth possible in such a way that both the individual and humanity at large are free to pursue their spiritual destiny.

To make land-use and working of the land a way of self-education: an education in the sense that a better understanding of nature can lead to a better understanding of ourselves.

To create the farm organism in such a way that it is made available therapeutically to those who suffer from damages created by civilization and from other handicaps that need special care.

Recently my husband and I watched a short documentary about how more and more communities are being built around farms. It’s as though we’re moving back to honoring the earth in a way that hasn’t happened for hundreds of years. 


Rev. Camilla Sanderson lives in Temple and is presently practicing creative nonfiction writing in a low-residency program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of “The Mini Book of Mindfulness.”