Time to sign up with CSA farmers

January 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm 2 comments

While we’re snowed in here in the Triangle, its fun to daydream about the real-food cornucopia we’ll enjoy soon as the growing season warms up. (My lettuce, chard and basil seeds are already sprouting!). It’s also a good time to enroll in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, to ensure that you have a reliable source of healthy, local food throughout the growing season.

Here’s the deal: You pay up front in one or two installments for a season of fresh food each week. Your enrollment helps finance crop production costs and ensures the farm has a good customer base. In return you get to know the farmer who grows your food, you get outstanding fresh ingredients and the satisfaction of supporting your local economy.

We’re fortunate to be surrounded by a range of sustainable farms in this area. But if you want to partner with one of them, you have to act quickly, because demand exceeds supply and many of the local CSAs fill up fast.

Debbie Roos, our super sustainable ag agent, has a handy web page guiding you to CSAs throughout North Carolina. Here’s what I know about some of our local ones:

Baker + Farmer: Keenan McDonald (Duck Run Farm) recently moved to the edge of Pittsboro. She’s one of the new generation of sustainable growers who have flocked to this region. What’s most unusual about her CSA is that it provides one-stop shopping for locavores: Vegetables, fruits, breads and pastries (Chicken Bridge Bakery, Rob and Monica Segovia-Welch), duck and chicken eggs, artisanal cheeses (Small Potatoes Farm) , pasture-raised poultry, pork and beef (Cohen Farm) — even locally roasted organic coffee beans (Johnny’s in Carrboro) — or any combination of these. You can pick-up your weekly stash on the farm and at several locations in the Triangle.

Dutch Buffalo Farm: Emily Lancaster and Farrell Moose have a special place in my heart because their CSA is adjacent to the land where I lived in Hickory Mt. township during the early 1980s — when I was about their age — along what I consider one of the most beautiful roads in Chatham county. They offer a 24-week season of exquisite vegetables and fruits. What’s unique is that they break it up in three eight-week sessions,you can sign up for one, two or all three — a great way to dip in and find out if this if for you.

Edible Earthscapes: Jason and Haruka Oatis had been farming in Japan when they decided it was time to migrate to the U.S. They considered moving to the left coast until a Pittsboro f riend told them that Chatham was one of the best places in the country to be a sustainable farmer. Soon after they arrived here, Piedmont Biofuels guru Lyle Estill offered them a place to get started — the land that Doug Jones had cultivated until he moved over to the Biofuels eco-industrial complex in Pittsboro (see below). It’s worked out really well for Haruka and Jason — fertile land, a green house and cistern — a great place to start their CSA. Now in their second season, they offer a 24-week season with a range of fresh vegetables (including Asian varieties such as daikon, bok choy, mizuna), and they’ve even been experimenting with rice. What appealed to me when we joined them last year was the possibility of a small share — perfect for our two-person household. I also liked the idea of supporting this incubator farm; after they have saved enough money to move to their own place nearby, other farmers will take their place at the incubator, helping to expand our local foodshed.

Harland’s Creek: Judy Lessler is a retired scientist who started one of the earliest, and now one of the most successful, CSAs in Chatham, based at her historic farm west of Pittsboro. Her seven-month CSA season involves partnerships with some of the most experienced sustainable farms in the area, including Ayrshire (Bill Dow), Celebrity Dairy, Cohen Farms, Pine Knot (Stanley Hughes), Wiseacre (Laurie Heise), Fickle Creek Farms, Chapel Hill Creamery and Clayton Orchard. You can sign up for produce and herbs, meat and chicken, eggs and cheese, fruit, flowers, or any combination. Weekly boxes can be picked up on the farm, at Chatham Marketplace in Pittsboro, at the Durham Farmer’s Market and even at some workplaces. Judy also provides recipes for using the contents of each weekly supply.

Piedmont Biofarm: Run by the legendary Doug Jones, recently named Farmer of the Year by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, and a crew of young interns. With nearly 40 years of experience in organic farming, Doug is famous for using season extension techniques for year-found growing, for innovative seed saving and breeding (he created the Pittsboro Pepper), and for mentoring and teaching new farmers. This CSA has two unique features: 1) If you pick up your vegetables on the farm you get to choose from among those available, taking more of what you like and none of what you don’t like, and 2) there are three 15-week seasons, spanning almost an entire year. You can sign up for one, two or all three. The farm is located at the famous Piedmont Biodiesel eco-industrial complex on the east edge of Pittsboro.

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Entry filed under: Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Food, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Emily  |  January 30, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for the shout-out – come back to visit any time. Especially if you like weeding!!!!
    Emily
    DutchBuffaloFarm.com

    Reply
  • 2. cricket bread  |  February 15, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Don’t forget about Circle Acres’ first-year CSA! Circle Acres is located in Silk Hope, just a few miles from Siler City. Details are here – http://circleacres.org

    Reply

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