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June 11, 2018
Authentic: Bethlehem’s Bounty CSA
When Chris West learned about the controversies swirling around agrochemical company Monsanto ten years ago, he decided he wanted to grow his own food.
During one of his free periods working as a project-based draftsman, he interned at the Rodale Institute in their Agriculture Supported Communities program. That’s where he met Bob Drake, manager of the Monocacy Farm Project, where the CSA program known as Bethlehem’s Bounty, which Chris founded and runs, is located.
Right now, the CSA (which stands for Community Supported Agriculture) has eight workshares and about 20 paying members. Though Chris is currently the sole owner, he wants that to change.
“I want to focus on having the CSA owned by the workers,” Chris says, “so they can make decisions instead of me dictating everything.”
The American philosopher John Dewey believed that you didn’t really have democracy unless you had democratic control by the very people who work in the institutions and communities that make up society. Chris is sympathetic to that view.
“I think we have democracy outside of work,” he says, “but we don’t have it inside of work. I want the people who do the work to own the work.”
It’s their fifth growing season, and this year, Bethlehem’s Bounty is focusing on including salad greens and brassicas like kale, broccoli, and kohlrabi. They’re also planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, squash, cabbage, onions, herbs—and even some flowers as an added bonus.
For Chris, Bethlehem’s Bounty is not only about providing fine organic produce, but having those in the Bethlehem community own the fruits of their labor—and in a small but significant way, owning more of their own lives.
“I want to get more people involved,” Chris says, “who are dedicated and who also live within the community. They can share in the profits and the surplus we provide.”
To learn more about how to get involved with Bethlehem’s Bounty, visit bethlehemsbountycsa.com.