The Backyard CSA

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Brie Aronson

Brie Aronson › Brie Aronson came to Polyface from southern California. During college, she was diagnosed with food allergies ...


Brie Aronson recently interviewed Anita Gregoire, founder of Edmonton’s On Borrowed Ground CSA, to discuss Anita’s unique approach to growing and distributing locally grown produce to the members. Brie was very inspired by her talk with Anita, noting that Anita overcame a lot of the same barriers we all face when it comes to getting a better handle on our own food security.

Simply put, this is an inspiring food story.

More and more people are getting hip to the message of the good food movement – people who vote with their dollars by supporting local farmers; people who want to know how their chickens were raised; people who have read up on the facts about GMO’s. And this is a wonderful thing! But when you want to take the next step and grow some of your sustenance yourself, it can be a bit daunting. You’re going to need some space, and you’re going to need some know-how. Where do you turn?

I recently had the opportunity to interview a woman from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, who is using Community Supported Agriculture not only to nourish her neighbors, but also to educate them. Self-described “Food Actionist” Anita Gregoire has built a brilliant CSA model from the borrowed yards of people in her own community.

Having always possessed a fondness for gardening, a few years back Anita found herself with a desire to grow vegetables and a too-small backyard. Not one to be discouraged, she placed an ad in a local publication that offered her gardening expertise and labor in exchange for space to plant her vegetables. The idea was well received – it turns out there were many people locally with plenty of yard space but not enough time to maintain a garden, and Anita found ample room to grow her produce.

Frustrated by the growing disconnect between people and the land that sustains them, and knowing that Community Supported Agriculture had the potential to transform such a disconnect, Anita started a website for her province that lists all the CSA’s in the region. Then, in 2009, she started On Borrowed Ground CSA with the same concept as her original newspaper ad: if people would lend their gardens, she would grow the produce. Drawing upon permaculture ideas, no-till concepts, and sustainable methods, she now tends ten borrowed vegetable gardens and supplies twenty members with seasonal produce.

However, Anita doesn’t go it alone. “We don’t just grow vegetables, we grow gardeners,” she says.

Click here to read the rest of the article over at!

This article originally appeared on It is partially posted here with permission from the author.

Is there an interesting or unusual CSA model in your neck of the woods?

Photo Credit: On Borrowed Ground