>tell me more -
As the signature shows, I head a Mexican non profit development organization that promotes and supports development projects, mainly agricultural and / or ecological but we also contribute to resolving community issues in a variety of other areas, as able. I've been here 25 years and have been doing this about 10, farming before that in the mountains here in Jalisco and before that for a few years in Southern California. The projects can be based in any part of Mexico where our support is solicited. We work mainly with Indian tribes and low income, collective farmers. No policy exists that excludes the participation of wealthier growers but in practice any that join in do so in such a way that greater numbers of individuals and families are also benefited.
The agricultural projects are all oriented toward the organic market but must depart from a basis of locally tried and true methods - meaning that a large investment in locally unproven crops or technology must begin with evaluation and or demonstration plots, in order to justify the change to something (hopefully) better for both growers and the banks or government agencies financing the crop. From there we move as rapidly as possible toward fully organic methods, adding logical things like letting fruit get sufficiently ripe, extra care in handling, etc. Any crop that may require any amount of any agrochemical initially (while in transition to fully organic), will receive the minimum amount of the least toxic and most quickly dissipating type available and will be avoided entirely where ever possible. I myself have never used an agrochemical on any land I've farmed and I began farming in 1968.
>what's involved at our end? Must we
>contract for a ton a week, or what?
The first logical step is to determine whether a degree of interest exists in 1).- Receiving a given array of products (more on that later) and 2).- Establishing a collaborative relationship between groups of growers on the one hand, and groups of consumers on the other. The consumer groups may be either already organized or become organized explicitly in relation to the project itself. To a limited degree, the relationship between the two groups is negotiable between the parties involved in each and every instance, within guidelines that were developed in response to previous experiences and the relevant legal considerations involved.
Getting back to the array of products to be offered, it will consist of products unavailable locally and fall into two separate principal categories: Tropical Fruits and Off Season (or winter) Fruits and Vegetables.
Tropical products include Pineapple, Papaya, Limes and Mango (although these last require hot water treatment and the infrastructure with which to do it). Avocados can be shipped to certain U.S. states. Guavas from Mexico can not currently enter the U.S. except in processed form. Coconuts are another possibility. Many other fruits are available but are less mainstream and perhaps should not be considered until later, once the mainstream products have been successfully introduced. However, your suggestions are welcome.
Off Season (or winter) products include Melons, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Bell Peppers, Squash and perhaps Eggplant. I say perhaps because there are many other items that can be considered specialty items and would be subject to establishing special arrangements (i.e. a type of Grow to Order operation), due to the lower volume involved.
In any case, before quantifying a given minimum volume for a range of products, we would best determine the growth potential of the region in which interested participating parties are located, as well as the disposition on their part to help organize others within that geographic area. There are many forms that the relationship could take, but who will we be dealing with and where are they located, relative to other population centers.
There are two separate but linked areas in which we could follow this up, that of the CSA itself (direct shipments to consumers who subscribe to or support farm production to some extent), with the added possibility of further distribution - a kind of investment in agricultural development in Mexico, which would both influence the course of events here toward a sustainable future, keep more people working on the land and provide high quality and uncontaminated tropical and off season food that would be shipped directly to your area. All we would need would be to organize a group large enough to accommodate full truck loads (partial truckload carriers are unavailable in Mexico), although perhaps a load could be divided at the border with participating groups in other cities.
I had mentioned a year or more ago something about SERA or SERÁ (can your computer see accents?), which means "it will be" in Spanish and spells out "Socially and Ecologically Responsible Agriculture" in this case; something that goes farther than organic, socially: Both a better product and a better deal for both growers and consumers.
Using a digital camera, we will be able to show our partners fruit that's ready to be picked or loaded in a truck. A client or subscriber can ask for a close up or a given angle of a given subject, and that could be done and transmitted immediately. (There's no film that has to be developed). The email clients, the www and the browsers shorten the distance. Instead of giving out brochures, a presentation could be installed on a portable computer, printing out only those pages attracting a special interest.