High Country CSA ready for winter
The woolly worms are predicting another long, cold winter this season - but that doesn't mean Watauga County consumers have to do without fresh, local, organic produce and meat.
For the second year in a row, High Country CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) will link local consumers with local farmers at monthly pickups at the Watauga County Agricultural Extension.
Maverick Farms of Valle Crucis established High Country CSA in January 2009, with funding from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center and support from local farms and farmer groups, such as the New River Organic Growers Cooperative. All of the participating farms grow and produce by organic standards.
The project gathers produce from local farmers and food producers and distributes it under the community-supported agriculture (CSA) model. In the regular season (May through October), consumers buy shares in advance of the growing season, and receive a variety of produce each week. In the winter season, consumers order food online, and then pick it up monthly.
High Country CSA recently finished its second regular season (May-Oct.), in which 22 area farms produced food for more than 80 local families. Starting in November, many of those same 22 farms will offer everything from fresh greens to pastured meat to artisanal bread to anyone who orders through High Country CSA.
"We are getting ready to start our second year producing local food in the High Country through fall and winter. We're excited to expand and welcome both new growers and new eaters," said High Country CSA coordinator Franya Hutchins. "Participation is very simple, and people will have access to local, organically produced vegetables, dairy, meat, bread, bagels, and even chocolate and granola."
The group has almost doubled in size since its inception, due to "the flexibility and consistency for growers, as well as the high quality and unique opportunity to eat local year round for consumers," Hutchins said.
She added that more and more High country CSA-affiliated farmers are investing in "season-extension infrastructure," such as passive-solar greenhouses and hoophouses, which will expand the supply of top-quality greens and other cold-hardy vegetables all winter.
High Country CSA has recently been approved to receive EBT/SNAP benefits, and should be set up to do so in the next month.
Orders are made online and participants meet once a month for distribution. Anyone can order, so there are no membership charges or requirements. To learn more, email (firstname.lastname@example.org)