ASC (Agricultural Community Supported) programs help limited income families

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By now, most readers of this section will have at least heard about CSAs, or community supported agriculture subscriptions, by which customers pay farms in advance for weekly "shares" of what's in season, and those shares are delivered to various spots -- or even picked up at the farm.

But you may not have heard of an ASC. One of the region's leading CSA providers, Kretschmann Organic Farm in Beaver County, has started an "agriculture supported community" program, offering those who are not financially well-off the chance to pay for a veggie subscription on a sliding scale, based on their means. The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture notes in a news release the social justice aspect of CSAs, noting, "More farms than ever are offering flexible pricing options, such as work shares."

Don Kretschmann says of community supported agriculture, "It can go the opposite direction, too. And it does." His operation always has donated food to those in need, through food banks and other charities as well as directly. Subscribers have the option of donating their shares while on vacation, too. There's been a "very gratifying response." Now, his farm, where subscriptions are $22 to $27 a week, is willing to work with potential subscribers who can't afford that but who would like to still participate (kretschmannfarm.com).

You can learn about that and more than 30 other CSAs in this region on a list compiled by PASA's Buy Fresh Buy Local program. Just go to buylocalpa.org/western-pa-csa.


Bob Batz Jr.: bbatz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1930.


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