By Julia Howard
While the mainstream media reports on crops rotting in fields due to the food chain disruption caused by COVID-19, the local agriculture scene is experiencing a different reality. Local farmers are responding to the demand for fresh food and CSA’s, once considered to be a niche market, are gaining momentum.
Community-supported agriculture (CSA) by Echo Creek Farm’s definition is “a mutually beneficial commitment between farmers and their community.” Members of a CSA ensure a customer base and stable income for farmers throughout the growing season. In return, the farmer provides CSA members with a weekly share of seasonal produce.
Local farms are experiencing a surge in CSA signups as consumers are looking for food that has been handled minimally on the journey from farm to table. Consumers are also looking to avoid the stresses of shopping and CSA shares offer a solution: a variety of ripe, freshly-harvested products on a consistent schedule.
Echo Creek Farm, Owl Wood Farm, and 518 Farms currently offer CSA shares. These shares vary in pricing, products, and frequency, and each farm offers pick-up and delivery options to meet customers’ specific needs.
Echo Creek Farm offers a ‘harvest share’ that runs for 15 weeks from June through September. “Our share relies heavily on familiar items. Each week you’ll receive a collection of vegetables that are in season and grown using organic methods. The amount varies a little as the growing season changes, but it’s generally appropriate for a family of 2-4 people,” says Mike Palulis, farm owner. Pickup is at their farm in Salem.
Owl Wood Farm offers two CSA options: a standard ‘box share’ that runs for 20 weeks from June through October and a ‘market share’ where credit is added onto a gift card in increments of $100 and customers use this credit while shopping at their farmers’ market stand. Owl Wood offers ‘box share’ pickup at the farmers’ market, drive-thru pickup at their farm in Salem, and home delivery.
518 Farms offers a variety of mushrooms in their weekly ‘small ½ lb. share’ or ‘ large 1 lb. share’. Subscribers may select from blue and yellow oysters, lions main, nameko, chestnuts, maitake, and shiitake with pickup on Tuesdays at the farm in Hoosick Falls.
In addition to these CSA farm shares, Elihu Farm offers an egg subscription, Slate River Farms offers ‘box selections’ on their pastured pork and grass-fed beef, and Goode Farm offers a weekly flower subscription.
This week’s recipe: Rhubarb Cake