Hallowell and many others, ME

Contact Name
Deborah Fahy
Project Dates
March 1, 2012 - February 28, 2013
Tags
Event, Networking
CSA: Community Supporting Arts aims to promote both local art and local food by partnering 14 artists with 13 CSA (community supported agriculture) farms in and around central Maine. The artists have been creating art inspired by their farmers’ lives, work, landscapes, challenges and ideals since the beginning of the growing season in early spring 2012.

The project culminated in 8 art exhibitions on view between Oct 2012 - Feb 2013.

CSA: Community Supporting Arts is a project of the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell (owned and operated by the Kennebec Valley Art Association, a 501(c)3 membership based organization) and the Kennebec Local Food Initiative of Gardiner that strives to strengthen community food security through access, education, information and advocacy.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
To promote local artists and local farms and the vibrant and unique communities each represents.
Have they changed over time?
Not during the course of this project.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
The Kennebec Valley Art Association has about 300 artist members. This project was open to any Maine artist, not just our membership. Our partnering farmers are all operating CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms in and around central Maine. In joining a CSA, folks make a financial commitment to their farm by investing in a share of the produce at the beginning of the growing season. In return farmers are committed to producing the freshest, most flavorful, high quality food possible for their members (most CSA farms adhere to organic standards as much as possible). Typically each CSA member gets a weekly delivery of produce from early summer through harvest. Community Supported Agriculture is a grassroots response to the growing social and environmental problems of our modern industrial food system, and this local foods movement is transforming relationships between people, food and farms. According to the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association website, Maine’s CSA community includes over 160 farms with more than 6,500 families investing in their local food through the purchase of shares.
Granting agencies included Davis Family Foundation, Maine Community Foundation, Maine Arts Commission and individual donors through an Indiegogo campaign online last spring.
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
Complete details available online here:
https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1RN_0BmaE8HmBuOtx13yRJBi1RoBuZtJG9TLGCjZrksI
Have they been refined over time?
Yes, as needed.
Obstacles
What were your major obstacles?
one artist farm mismatch/misunderstanding.
One exhibition with not enough art because some artists are spread too thin (this is a happening right now problem)
Harlow staff limitations (ambitious project for a nonprofit part-time staff)
we ordered too many tshirts.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Having a dedicated steering committee ready to troubleshoot!
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
get grant funding
plan well ahead and allow at least 6 months for recruitment/applications
fewer exhibitions
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
The artists learned from the farmers, and the farmers from the artists. It opened up opportunities for networking and dialogue, kick-started new ideas and projects and has been very rewarding and great fun!
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
It met and exceeded our original goals. Feedback from both artists and farmers has been very positive. Events well attended, good press attention, especially towards the end.
The book is a beautiful record of the project: http://harlowgallery.org/project-book-for-csa-community-supporting-arts-available-online/
Were there unexpected impacts?
We won a ribbon for most educational booth in the exhibition hall at the Common Ground Fair.

Some of our artists and farmers told us this was a life changing experience for them.
People want to replicate the project and we hope they do, that is why we have published the manual online: https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1RN_0BmaE8HmBuOtx13yRJBi1RoBuZtJG9TLGCjZrksI