The Cal Poly Crop Science Department’s decision to kill the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program may have been cruel and ill advised, but it did provide an effective display of raw power (“Harvest of disappointment,” Aug. 25). Its execution with blitzkrieg haste at a time of year when the university is deserted was well timed to maximize the shock and bewilderment of the many students, faculty, employees, and customers who held a stake in this real community institution.
One wonders if any of the decision- makers has ever shared my experience as a 10-year CSA member—being personally connected to the elemental process of planting, cultivating, harvesting, and cooking food grown by people they knew, in soil they loved. One wonders if these agriculturalists were aware of the decades of dedication invested in this program by visionary volunteers as a tiny offset to the servitude of most of the College of Agriculture to corporate industrial-chemical interests. One wonders if these crop scientists had considered the impact of being left in the lurch mid-season on several local small farmers who had partnered with the CSA.
One also wonders if their bumbling explanations, insulting to any person of intelligence, convinced their own authors or were just a smokescreen for a show of force. The only statement that made any sense in the letter sent to the press and to CSA members was that the program has been running a deficit. Apart from the fact that innovative, educational, and community service projects should not be judged simply by the bottom line of short-term profitability, a reasonable approach to the CSA’s financing problems would be for Cal Poly to activate some of its educational resources and opportunities—for instance in agricultural marketing and distribution—to help it thrive.