The sun shines, the weather warms, and local crops promise to ripen soon. It’s almost time to begin the weekly warm-weather tradition of going to the local farmers’ markets to find your staples. Whether you’re looking for produce, plants, baked goods, or tinctures, you’re likely to find these and much more at any number of markets throughout Western North Carolina.
A trend has developed at farmers’ markets wherein local farms have begun selling “shares” of their farms. If you’re familiar at all with how the stock market works, you probably know that buying a share means putting a little money into a company or project with the expectation that the return will be greater than your initial investment. Farms have adopted this basic model in order to put a greater amount of fresh produce into the hands of a greater number of people than would be possible if the farm depended on customers coming to them. Selling shares allows farms to grow while preventing farmers from being left with an overwhelming amount of product at the end of the season, and purchasing shares provides the opportunity for local folks to receive quality fresh food with minimal investment. Buying a share of a farm—known as CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)—allows someone to receive fresh food on a regular basis without the commitment of growing and tending one’s own garden or traveling long distances to the farms whose goods you prefer.
What does this have to do with art? If you’re ready to start cultivating your palate for regionally produced craft art but don’t know where to begin, HandMade in America is standing with you at the starting line. Even if you have a basic idea of what you like and what you’re looking for, you may not know where to look. If you’re just beginning to collect, it can be extremely intimidating to figure out whose work to buy from where and for what price.
HandMade Executive Director Gwynne Rukenbrod, says, “Six of our members will be chosen to make 50 pieces of artwork. Shareholders will pay a fee for a share, and each share receives a piece from each artist. Using local craft artists, this program provides young and budget-minded folks, who are interested in collecting the work of craft artists, the opportunity to do so without breaking the bank. At the same time, we provide craft artists the opportunity to promote themselves, make a little money, and to incubate their businesses by learning to manufacture on a small scale.”
HandMade in America (HIA) officials say they are excited to be the first organization in North Carolina to implement this program. Although it hasn’t been done before in this state, it has been implemented in other places throughout the country. Springboard for the Arts, in collaboration with mnartists.org (our of Minnesota), began the program in 2010 and has not only successfully implemented the program season after season but also has provided support for other organizations to implement the program all across the country.
Andy Sturdevant from Springboard for the Arts says, “The best part about watching the CSA model spread is seeing how wildly different organizations all over the country have adapted the program to work in their own communities. A few years after we launched the program in Minneapolis-St. Paul, CSA has been replicated in over 30 communities, by arts groups, nonprofits, galleries, artist cooperatives, and even a high school. Asheville and Western North Carolina have such a great artistic tradition that encompasses both craft and contemporary art, so it’s exciting to see what the region’s artists will come up with.”
This means that there’s no better time for those in and around Asheville to begin collecting, and no better way to do it. With a region so rich with fine and diverse craft art, HandMade in America’s CSA program is sure to be a hit.
Become a CSA shareholder or CSA artist today.The call for artists will be open until April 1st and information can be found on the front page of HandMadeinAmerica.org. HIA will have juried in the six artists at the beginning of April. At that time it will begin having photos of the work and order forms available to purchase shares. If you are interested in being notified about this, please email Ryan-Ashley Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit HandMadeinAmerica.orgfor more information.