High Country growers sought for area ag project
The High Country Community-Supported Agriculture Project is looking for more growers to accommodate a larger consumer base in 2010.
An interest meeting will be held at the Watauga County Agricultural Extension Office on Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 6 p.m., open to any High Country growers or would-be growers.
In 2005, Maverick Farms, a nonprofit educational center for food and farming, launched the High Country's first community supported agriculture project, or CSA.
In a CSA, consumers pre-buy a "share" in the group at the beginning of the year, and receive weekly boxes of mixed produce throughout the season. The success of this model led the farm to invite more growers to participate, facilitated by a grant from the N.C. Rural Center.
In 2009, Maverick farms initiated the High Country CSA, a community-supported agriculture project linking area consumers to several local vegetable farms.
The project culminated this past summer as 15 High Country farms provided "shares" for more than 50 families for a 10-week season. "In 2010, we hope to double consumer membership, and need to increase our grower base, as well. This is a great opportunity to create a permanent direct-market venue in the High Country without individual farmers doing the time-consuming work of advertising, marketing, and distribution. Our consumer members are dedicated to the local food community and appreciate high-quality, organically produced vegetables and fruit," said Franya Hutchins, the project's coordinator.
Although member shares are made up primarily of vegetables, the CSA also offers meat, dairy, and extra fruit for order. The contributing farms supply to these pre-sold shares according to a production schedule created in January.
Benefits to growers include the flexibility of having multiple farms in case of crop failures, security of pre-sales, access to direct-market prices, and seed money provided at the beginning of the year according to farmer commitments on the production schedule, according to Hutchins.
The project accepts "naturally grown," USDA organic certified, or transitional farms based in Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Alleghany, Wilkes, and Yancey counties. Farmers may commit as much or little as they can produce, making the multifarm CSA a good system for small or large farms, new farmers or those well-established, Hutchins said.
For more information, attend the interest meeting at the Watauga County Agricultural Extension Office on Dec. 15 at 6 p.m., or e-mail (email@example.com)
Information on the project is also linked up at http://www.maverickfarms.com.