Denver Botanic Gardens created the Chatfield Farms CSA (Community Supporting Agriculture) program in 2009 with a grant from Kaiser Permanente. Shares of the CSA are sold to members of the public who then receive portions of the garden’s fresh produce during the harvest season, from May through November. Portions of the harvest are also donated to local nonprofit organizations.
Our produce is distributed to shareholders at two locations: Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms and Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street. In addition to our produce, we feature items produced locally for sale at distributions. Our goal is to offer our shareholders as many options as possible to source their food locally, as well as to support other small farms and producers.
The CSA model directly links consumer and farmer, cultivating a shared risk and reward relationship throughout the season. Each season we have a group of working shareholders who receive a reduced-price share in exchange for working a few hours a week on the farm. Additionally, the CSA is part of our Chatfield Farms Veterans Program, which provides opportunities for veterans to build job skills alongside staff and volunteers in a natural, therapeutic setting.
The CSA concept originated from ideas percolating in many locations throughout the world. In Japan, a group of women formed partnerships with local farmers to grow food for their immediate communities in order to avoid imported food, reduce pesticide use and preserve farmland from development. These relationships came to be known as "Tei Kei’s" or "food with the farmer’s face on it."
The CSA model also arose from Europe and the principles of biodynamic agriculture and Rudolf Steiner. Followers of Steiner moved to the U.S., bringing the CSA concept with them. The first two American CSAs were started in New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the early 1980s and are both still active. There are now thousands of CSAs spread across the country.