An interview with Kaiser Shaffer, Designer
During the summer and fall crop seasons, Bullhorn participates in a CSA program. Each week, we pick up a share of produce for the team to divvy up and take home, for free. Kaiser hangs around to the end of the day so he can take what is left.
Interview by Kate Baughman
KB Had you participated in a CSA program before Bullhorn? What did you know about them previously?
KS I was generally aware of CSA programs before Bullhorn. I come from a pretty agrarian area of Pennsylvania. There are lots of farms there, many of which offer CSA programs. I knew that it was basically a subscription service for fresh farm produce. Like Netflix, but for kale and corn. Streamed vegetables, if you will.
KB Coming in hot with the dad jokes, I see. Now, without cheating: what does CSA stand for?
KS I’ve often heard CSA boxes referred to as “crop shares” so I assumed that’s what the first two letters stood for. But I just checked and I totally got this wrong. It’s actually Community Supported Agriculture, which makes a lot more sense.
KB Help us out: how do those components square away?
KS The food is grown at Elmwood Stock Farm, a sixth-generation farm 20 miles from our Lexington office. There’s the agriculture part. The farm is also working to improve both the quality of organic produce and the use of land and water in Central Kentucky. By working with local composting partners, they are able to supply any food waste back to community gardens in Lexington. Taking part in the CSA program helps support a larger interconnected system that betters the land around us. There’s the community support part.
KB So this past year was your first opportunity to take home something from our share. Did you?
KS Definitely. As the summer intern, I was confused the first time a pile of kale and tomatoes and unidentified vegetables showed up. When I learned what it was and that I could take some home, I started to look forward to CSA pick-up day.
KB Did you try anything new?
KS I tried a rutabaga for the first time. I was unaware of its humble power. It’s like a cross between a turnip and a potato, how magical is that? Chop it up, throw that puppy into some boiling water and it turns into a nice mash. I ended up trying it in a recipe that included cream, thyme, and gingered pears. Team rutabaga for life.
Practically, it saves costs for me. As a single person, grocery store portions can sometimes be too much and spoil too fast for my use rate. I can take only what I need from our share and reduce my waste.
It also helps me eat more seasonally. By basing meals around the produce in the CSA share, I am emphasizing foods that are in peak freshness, better tasting, and cheaper to produce.
KB That leads me to my next question: How does participating in the CSA fit into our sustainability goals?
KS Food is one of the most actionable ways to improve sustainability and health. It’s a clear employee benefit that we’re a better Bullhorn when we’re eating well. It also helps us stay aware of our local land usage and how we can be good stewards of the land while reducing environmental impacts.
KB Last one; I’m getting hungry. Why is the CSA program important to you?
KS Food is a large part of the human experience. Good eating is good living. It also has a large impact on the environment. The food that is the most available to use in grocery stores often come with massive carbon footprints, especially in off-seasons. Companies (and former clients) like AppHarvest are working to address this issue at one end by bringing sustainable mass-market growing closer to consumers to avoid shipping food hundreds of miles across the country. But, we can also simply drive down demand by purchasing locally produced food.
You can find your local CSA program at sites like localharvest.org.