Why are CSA's becoming ever more common throughout New England?
Because Community Supported Agriculture is good for you, and good for the environment. Many more people are deciding to eat better, and to leave a smaller footprint on the environment.
It is well known that produce transported hundreds, or even thousands of miles to market is of inferior quality in both taste, and nutrition, compared to food that has been locally grown and harvested at the peak of maturity. Produce that is shipped has to stand up to being packed, shipped, and unpacked. So it is usually harvested in an immature state, never developing its full taste and nutrition.
And the varieties they grow have been bred to survive this difficult transit. They have not necessarily been bred for eating quality. For example, heirloom tomatoes are just too tender, juicy and thin-skinned to be packed into crates and shipped to far off markets. Thus we find the thick-skinned, bland varieties at the supermarket. Local produce tastes better, and is more nutritious, than produce bought at the supermarket.
But the environmental impact of this practice of shipping produce great distances also cannot be ignored. For example: just think of the amount of energy used to get that Florida (or South American) melon from field to your table!
Integrated Pest Management
Here at Bee Thankful Farm we follow the exacting demands of what is termed Integrated Pest Management. IPM is a crop production system encouraged by, and taught at the University of New Hampshire. I studied it extensively when I earned a Master's Degree in Plant Biology and Crop Production there. IPM involves the use of disease resistant crop varieties, thorough scouting for and understanding of the life-cycles of insect pests, the maintaining of optimum soil fertility and moisture, and the lowest chemical intervention possible for maintaining superior plant health. Beneficial insects are encouraged and nurtured. We produce our own compost, thanks to our horses and goats, that aids in plant nutrition. Strong, healthy plants can defend themselves against insect predators and fungal pathogens. Keep the plants healthy and they will usually take care of themselves, and provide great harvestable yields.
Post Harvest Handling
The produce is always harvested at the peak of ripeness, washed, bagged where appropriate, and ready to go when you come on pickup day! Temperature-sensitive produce are always kept cool to insure peak freshness. For example: when greens are harvested they are immediately hydro-cooled, and then refrigerated.
Environmental modifications provide great benefits
We use environmental modification techniques to help avoid plant stress. This includes the use of a high tunnel (entirely solar-heated greenhouse) to increase the growing season in the spring and fall. Plastic mulches are used to warm the soils early, and late in the season. They also block weeds and conserve soil moisture. Crop covers are tools that we use to warm plants and to exclude insect pests.
Conversely, during the heat of summer we use shade clothes to cool plants, soils and seedlings. Drip irrigation eliminate heat stress without wetting plant leaves, which can lead to disease. These techniques, and others allow us to avoid the summer dearth of produce familiar to many home gardeners.
How does our CSA work?
2017 membership fee = $650 for 22 weeks.
First harvest expected to be the first or second weekend in June.
Pick up each week here at the farm:
199 Middle Road
Deerfield, NH 03037
pick up days: starting June 2, 2017
pick up hours: anytime Fridays 8AM to 6PM, or on Saturdays 8AM to noon
to join: email Nick, at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call me at 603 660-0115
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a direct link between a local farmer and members who are interested in purchasing a regular supply of the freshest and most healthful produce available anywhere, and at better than farmers' market prices. Together we form a community that makes this endeavor possible.
At the start of each season, members purchase a share of our crops before they are planted. It is an investment. Using the NH Farmer's Market Bulletin as the price guide, I estimate you will receive at minimum $825 in produce for your $650 investment. Of course you are also getting a return in terms of your family's health, and in the delectability of your meals. And you are also investing in your community by helping to keep local agriculture alive. Thank you for that.
Each week, our CSA members are assured of receiving an equal share of that week's harvest. They need not hope to get to the Farmers' Market early enough to get "the good stuff". We'll let them know in advance what they will be receiving each week, and that it will be of top quality. Our produce is always better than what you get at the supermarket, and more economical, too.