Monday, March 20, 2006

Pioneering CSA farm sold for $427K to new farmers in deal to preserve it forever as a community agricultural resource

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. - March 18, 2006 -- A remarkable transition which promises to keep community-based agriculture growing in South Williamstown forever has been completed with the sale for $427,000 of the historic Caretaker Farm to new farmers and a local land trust. "It will be an actively working farm affordable to the farmers in perpetuity - for conservation, recycling and diversity," Caretaker co-founder Samuel W. Smith, 70, declared on Saturday.

Smith and his wife, Elizabeth V., 68, who have nurtured the 35-acre vegetable farm since 1969, left on Saturday to visit a daughter in France after a long-delayed legal closing. It involved four attorneys, two land trusts, 12
adults -- and one 2-year-old -- gathered on Friday around and under a Williamstown Savings Bank conference table. The new owners and farmer are Bridget Spann and Don Zasada - and their 2-year-old daughter, Gabriela.

The Smiths are intellectual and practical pioneers of a growing phenomenon -- so-called "community-supported agriculture" (CSA), in which local participants contribute an annual membership fee and in turn get generous allocations of farm-grown food crops through the year. Caretaker Farm, with 225 households each purchasing a share of farm-grown food for around $550 a year, is one of the "earliest and most notable [U.S.] experiments" of this approach, according to Bill McKibben, the Vermont author of the bestselling book, "The End of Nature."

McKibben will speak at the First Congregational Church in Williamstown at 8 p..m. on April 28 on "Caretaker Farm: Case Study for a Deep Economy" -- a reference to the title of his current book project. He his honorary chairman of
the "Campaign for Caretaker: Standing on Common Ground," which will raise $239,000 to complete the transaction.



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