Education

Education

Building healthy land, building healthy people

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Community

Building a connection

Community

Community

Building a connection

Education

Education

Building healthy land, building healthy people

Environment

Environment

Building a healthy future

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Local Foods

Why Buy Locally Grown?

Farmers Market

People world wide are rediscovering the benefits of buying local food. It is fresher than anything in the supermarket and that means it is tastier and more nutritious.

It is also good for your local economy- buying directly from family farmers help them stay in business.
There are almost two million farms in the USA. About 80% of those are small farms, and a large percentage are family owned. More and more of these farmers are now selling their products directly to the public. They do this via CSA or Farmers Market.

By buying produce from your local farmer, you are working to maintain a healthy environment, a vibrant community, and a strong and sustainable local economy for you and your kids to thrive in.

For a list of ND Farmers Markets click here www.ndfarmersmarkets.com

Thinking about signing up for a CSA? Do you want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read On.

Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
  • Deliver is typically once per week or every other week


Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown


It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it.

farmer

CSAs aren't confined to produce. Some farmers include the option for shareholders to buy shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies. Sometimes several farmers will offer their products together, to offer the widest variety to their members. For example, a produce farmer might create a partnership with a neighbor to deliver chickens to the CSA drop off point, so that the CSA members can purchase farm-fresh chickens when they come to get their CSA baskets. Other farmers are creating standalone CSAs for meat, flowers, eggs, and preserved farm products.

Shared Risk There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk. Many times, the idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmers. If a hailstorm takes out all the peppers, everyone is disappointed together, and together cheer on the winter squash and broccoli. Most CSA farmers feel a great sense of responsibility to their members, and when certain crops are scarce, they make sure the CSA gets served first. Still, it is worth noting that very occasionally things go wrong on a farm – like they do in any kind of business – and the expected is not delivered, and members feel shortchanged. The take-home message is this: if the potential for "not getting your money's worth" makes you feel anxious, then shared risk may not be for you and you should shop at the farmers market.

Questions you might ask your CSA:
Nothing beats the relationship you develop with the farmer. Here are some questions you might ask.

  • How long have you been farming?
  • How long have you been doing a CSA?
  • Are there items in your box grown by other farms, and if so, which farms?
  • How did last season go?
  • What types of produce can we expect in our box/basket?


I'd like to talk with a couple of your members before I commit. Could you give me contact info for a couple of "references"?

Tips for Potential CSA Members:

blackberries

Ask if all the produce your receive will come directly from the CSA. Some CSA only deliver what they raise on their farm. Some source certain products from a neighboring farm. Be sure you know where your produce is coming from.

If you are not used to eating seasonally, do some research. If you are not accustomed to eating seasonally, you may find that it takes a while to make a transition from eating whatever is at the grocery store (pretty much everything) to whatever is in your CSA basket (what's in season). It may surprise you to find that tomatoes do not ripen until August in your area. You should expect the season to start off lighter than it finishes. In most areas, the first crops will be salad greens, peas, and green onions. By the end of the season, the boxes should be much heavier, with things like winter squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and broccoli.

Quantity varies – good to ask up front. When filling the weekly CSA baskets, farmers try and provide a variety of items, in a reasonable quantity. They don't want to be skimpy, and they don't want to overwhelm their members. Too much of even a good thing, and it ends up going to waste, which makes everyone feel bad. Over time, farmers develop a feel for how much is the right amount for their particular community – what's fair, what's reasonable, what will get eaten. Of course, the weather and other mitigating circumstances can get in the way of their ability to provide the ideal amount, as discussed above. One of the most important questions to ask before you sign up is, "About how much produce do you expect to deliver each week, and how does that vary from the beginning of the season to the end?"

If you want to preserve food for winter, ask. Some farms allow members to get extra quantities of certain vegetables for canning or freezing. If this is something that interests you, talk to the farmer early in the season.

Make sure you understand the policies. Farms differ in their policies regarding what happens with your box if you don't pick it up (e.g. vacation, something-came-up, I forgot, etc.) Make sure you know how these situations are dealt with, before the season starts.