Two Decades of Portland CSA
We’re currently collecting historical information and photos from the early days of Portland CSAs and PACSAC gatherings. We’re hoping this will make it into a longer write up here on the site and act as a bit of an archive. The beginnings of that writeup are below.
The earliest CSAs in Portland seem to have been started in the early 1990’s. Sue Clark from Natural Harvest Farm remembers there were 3 CSA’s when we first gathered and I’m not sure who was first. Conveniently, Pumpkin Ridge was one of them and is still running – they may have been first. In addition to Natural Harvest (Will and me), there was Simpleton Farm on Sauvie Island run by Roxanne and Yuval Sternberg. The number of CSAs grew quickly and other folks may have clearer memories than I. I do have photos of an early Tomato Turn On that introduced hundreds of people to a huge array of tomato varieties. We asked them to taste and evaluate so we all got feedback on the most popular tomatoes.
Shari Sirkin from Dancing Roots Farm has kept a bit of an archive of the old paper lists from the early days of the group. One from 1996 can be seen here.
Starting in 2001, or maybe even earlier, the group started printing a list of the CSAs in the area each winter to distribute around town and at events. The list was an effort to increase awareness of CSA in the area and to help new members find farms that they could support.
The name PACSAC came about around 2002 and was a direct take off of the well known MACSAC. At the time there was much discussion in the group about the possibility of the group developing into a larger support organization for CSAs in the area, and possibly hiring a part time coordinator, but the decision was made, and has repeatedly been made over the years to remain an all volunteer organization run by the farmers themselves.
Around 2003 a website and list serve were started. The website has gone through several iterations and two domain names (after the original pacsac.org was lost in 2008). Until the summer of 2010 we maintained our own list of CSAs, but as Local Harvest’s list has grown, and offers an easier way for farmers to update their own listings, we decided to simply link to their list.