The community-supported agriculture (CSA) model has been extended to meat, fish, and even honey and beer ... now there's a growing handful of farms offering CSMs, or community-supported medicinal herb shares. At the forefront of this movement is Goldthread farm and apothecary in Western Massachusetts.
Founded by William and Sarah Siff, Goldthread's CSM was created "to establish within the community an understanding that herbal medicine, just like nutritious, locally-grown food, is a foundational part of being a healthy human being," says employee Melanie Jolicoeur.
Like other community-supported agriculture endeavors, Goldthread offers shares, which members purchase in exchange for future products. But instead of fruits and vegetables, Goldthread grows and prepares herbs and remedies that can be used for conditions like colds, flus, and digestive issues. All of the products are created in small batches at an organic farm in Conway, Mass., and an apothecary in Florence, Mass.
A CSM basket might include a combination of bulk herbs (like lavender, tulsi, and chocolate mint); tinctures (such as California poppy, Yerba Mansa, skullcap); hydrosols (spruce, clary sage); oils (Bhringaraj hair oil, calendula); herbal honeys (lemon balm, tulsi); compounds (Fire Cider, throat spray); as well as fresh culinary herbs and garlic from the fields.
For shareholders who aren't already familiar with herbal medicine, there are opportunities to visit the farm and learn how to use the items they receive. Goldthread will also ship shares to people who don't have a CSM in their own area. The Florence apothecary is also open to the public.
We're totally intrigued by this "grassroots medicine" concept and are thinking of ways to create something similar where we live. Have you participated in any programs like this?
• Learn more: Goldthread CSM
Related: How to Start a New CSA: Interview with Paula Lukats of Just Food
(Images: Courtesy of Goldthread)