Know who grows your food
You can name your dentist, doctor or personal trainer. But what
about your farmer?
Paying a farmer to grow your food may be the best investment you ever make. Not only is the food top quality, but extremely fresh and full of vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting compounds.
Joining a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) is a great way to get to know who grows your food. Most growers encourage farm visits.
Amy Fiedler of Springhouse Farm grew for 16 families last year and found the relationship with her members to be one of the most satisfying aspects of the job. She said, “I think it’s so important for people to know how food is grown, now more than ever. Anyone is welcome to lend a helping hand and get involved in whatever area they are interested in on the farm.”
Amy sites another major benefit as knowing how much to grow for a known market. She would like to expand considerably for the 2013 season and is willing to work with community members who receive EBT, formally known as food stamp benefits.
Typically, CSA members join by paying a set fee for produce and other farm goods between now and early spring to receive a weekly supply of freshly picked food as it ripens.
This is a great way to learn about the growing season. Vegetables harvested in May are typically cold-tolerant, like lettuce, bok choy and other greens, with corn and tomatoes arriving late in the summer.
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.
I have listed a few farms that are taking CSA members right now. I’m sure there are some programs that I have unintentionally excluded. If you would like to get more information and meet growers, make plans to attend a CSA fair on Monday, March 18, beginning at 4:30 p.m. This will be held at the Agricultural Conference Center, located at 252 Poplar Grove Road in Boone.
Springhouse 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. To do so, call (828) 719-6825, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) , or visit http://www.springhousefarm.net.
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 and 6 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 who 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 at $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, and costs $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 and costs $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, and costs $42.
The priority deadline is April 15. Sign up and pay for the entire season by June 1. 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 to 6:30 p.m., and Blowing Rock Produce & Provisions, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.highcountrycsa.org/summer-shares or e-mail (email@example.com)
North Fork Farm offers boxes of frozen beef, pork and chicken that are available for five months, from April until August. Full shares consist of five monthly deliveries of up to 20 pounds for $550. Half shares consist of five monthly deliveries of approximately 10 pounds for $300.
North Fork Farm is committed to distributing quality beef, pork and chicken to CSA members. All meat is USDA inspected, vacuum packed and raised without antibiotics or added hormones. The payment deadline is April 5. They meet their members at the Agricultural Conference Center parking lot in Boone.
For more information, contact Jimmy and Sheila Greene at (828) 297-5755, e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) , or visit http://www.northforkfarmbeef.com.
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email email@example.com or call (828) 264-3061.