By Jesse Wood
Originally Published on March 7, 2013. At the annual “Report to the People” last Tuesday, Watauga County Cooperative Extension Director Jim Hamilton noted the significant impact buying local foods has on the local economy, and he stressed the importance of knowing where our comes from.
Well, by joining a CSA this spring not only will you be supporting local farmers, but you will also meet those farmers that grow the fruits and vegetables and those farmers that raise the livestock and keep the bees. As a post on the extension’s blog asks, “You can name your dentist, doctor or personal trainer. But what about your farmer?”
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and folks who join a CSA are basically buying shares of a season’s crops from either one farmer or a group of farmers. The process usually works by paying a set fee to the farmer or CSA organization from now until spring. Then once the goods are ready to be marketed, you pick up a week’s worth of goods at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings or at a select day and time at the farm.
“Becoming a CSA member helps small, local farms survive financially, since they have many expenses this time of year and haven’t really been paid since the end of last growing season. You invest in them and they reward you every week with healthy, beautiful, sustainably-grown food,” states the blogpost.
By prepaying for food, this allows the farmers to fix farm equipment, pay for seeds and prepare for the growing season. Joining a CSA also ensures that you are eating foods in season – freshly-picked foods as soon as they ripen.
To learn more information or speak to the participating farmers, attend the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s CSA fair on Monday, March 18, at the Agricultural Conference Center in downtown Boone. The fair starts at 4:30 p.m and is free to attend. For more information, contact Hollis Wild at: [email protected]
From the Extension’s website, here is a list of a few farms that are accepting CSA members right now:
Spring House Farm is certified organic and located in Vilas. You may choose a half share, which provides approximately $15 worth of vegetables each week for $300, due by April 1. A full share provides around $25 worth of vegetables each week for $500. If you live near Vilas, you may pick up your produce on the farm Tuesdays between noon and 6 p.m. at their produce stand beginning May 28. If the Watauga County Farmers’ Market is more convenient, you may pick your produce up there between 8 and 11:30 a.m., beginning May 25. The season lasts for 20 weeks. Contact Amy Feidler with any questions or to reserve your share.
Creeksong Farm is not certified organic, but uses organic methods for production and is located in Creston. They offer a variety of produce, beef and eggs. Pickups begin June 4 between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and continue for 20 weeks at the Agricultural Conference Center loading dock in Boone, or between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. at the farm in Creston. If the Watauga County Farmers’ Market is more convenient, you may pick your produce up there between 10 and 11:30 a.m. on Saturdays. Full shares cost $500, and you receive $25 worth of food each week. Half shares cost $300, and you receive $15 worth of food each week. A 50 percent deposit is due March 20, and the rest of the payment is due May 1. For more information, call Jeff and Bettie Thomas at (336) 385-6302 or visit http://www.creeksongfarm.com/CreeksongFarm/CSA.html.
High Country CSA represents a group of growers and producers that grow according to organic standards, but may not be certified. There are several options for the 2013 season, which runs from June through mid-October. The garden share contains four to six vegetables weekly. This option is perfect for small households; $300. The full harvest contains seven to 10 seasonal produce items, including herbs. It is appropriate for large households, or small households that rely on produce for a significant portion of their diet; $600. The variety share highlights four to six seasonal produce items, while also including special items like free-range eggs, breads, goat cheese, molasses, etc. This option will introduce you to the best variety in High Country food; $600. An egg share may be added to any of the three main share options. The egg share features a dozen free-range eggs biweekly, 10 dozen total; $42.
The priority deadline is April 15. Sign up and pay for the entire season by June. If you receive EBT benefits, ask about the details of becoming a member. The pickup locations are Bare Essentials in Boone every Tuesday from 3:00 to 6:30 p.m. and Blowing Rock Produce & Provisions from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Press Release from ASAP:
CSA Time is Here: Area farmers are getting ready for the growing season and their CSA programs
Spring is only a couple weeks away. That means farmers will soon begin harvesting greens and other cool-weather crops to sell to grocers, at farmers tailgate markets, and to pack directly for their CSA—or Community Supported Agriculture—farm share subscribers. To help those interested in a CSA find the right one for them, ASAP is hosting their second High Country CSA Fair on Monday, March 18, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at the Agriculture Conference Center in Boone. The free family-friendly event is an opportunity to meet High Country farmers, learn about their CSA programs and products, and purchase a share or shares.
Family farms offering traditional CSAs provide the chance to sign up for a season and receive a box of produce straight from their farm every week! They offer convenient pickup or delivery schedules for the steady supply of farm-fresh foods, and many feature add-on options such as eggs, cheese, and fresh-cut flowers. Today, there are a growing number of CSAs moving beyond the traditional model with varied subscription sizes and flexible sign-up options. New models even include “shopping” for a CSA box at a farmers market. ASAP’s fair offers the opportunity to ask local CSA farmers what makes them unique.
The following seven diverse Appalachian Grown certified CSA providers are slated to attend: Creeksong Farm (Zionville), High Country CSA (Banner Elk), Elk Mountain Farm (Newland), North Fork Farm (Zionville), Herbal Gardens, Springhouse Farm (Vilas) and New Life Farm (Boone). All participating farms have pickup locations in Boone, as well as other areas. Grandfather Vineyard Winery (Banner Elk) will also be on hand for a wine tasting. The Agriculture Conference Center is located at 252 Poplar Grove Road.
To learn more about the fair and ASAP’s work, visit www.asapconnections.org. Those unable to attend can browse local farms offering CSAs in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org; the new 2013 print guide hits stands in late April.