Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

One of the many benefits of living in the Upper Connecticut River Valley is the easy access to an abundance of farms and farm stands that keep us supplied with high quality, locally grown produce and naturally raised meat and poultry.

Several local farms are currently taking CSA subscriptions, if you haven't already signed up, you should consider doing so. For those of you who are new to the concept, 'Community Supported Agriculture' is essentially a partnership between community members and farmers, who agree to share in the bounty and the risks of farming. To join a CSA Program, members pay for a season's worth of produce in the spring - when farming output costs are high - in exchange for a weekly share of the season’s harvest at a reduced price. It’s like a subscription to fresh food.

 Here are a few local options:

Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford, Vermont is a certified organic farm and has several CSA options available. In addition to the traditional fresh produce CSA, you can sign up for a floral CSA - once a week take your pick of blooms from the farm's gorgeous flower beds. Or sign up for a Fall CSA and continue to enjoy the farm's produce after the summer season ends; maybe you'll try some new root vegetables. Online registration is available - get all the details here. This year they have introduced a great program for employees and volunteers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center - they will deliver to the hospital on Fridays.

Hogwash Farm in Norwich, which produces sustainably-raised heritage pork, grass-fed beef and pastured poultry, offers a meat CSA. A great feature of Hogwash's program is that the CSA is available year-round with four different start dates - you probably don't need to purchase a freezer chest. Details on options and how to sign up here.

If you prefer to make you own CSA selections on your own schedule, the certified organic Killdeer Farm in Norwich has a flexible program which gives you the opportunity to visit the farm stand any day of the week and choose only the fresh produce that you want. Your shares can also be applied to the farm's plants or to any of the great local food they carry - organic milk and meats, and artisanal cheeses and baked goods. Get all the details here.

Sunrise Farm in White River Junction subscribes to the original vision of CSA farming: everything they grow is distributed exclusively to their members. And joining is about taking part in the rural experience - members harvest their own produce. Sunrise also raises chicken, lamb and pork. While they are not included in the CSA, Sunrise offers its members priority to purchase these as well as their maple syrup. Information on how to join here.

Lastly, Your Farm in Fairlee is a certified organic farm that offers both a Summer and a Winter CSA. Their program has an addded convenience factor, you can have your pre-packed CSA delivered to one of a dozen locations in the Upper Valley - some locations are specific to the employees of the business place where the delivery is made. Details and online registration here.

For a listing of farms throughout Vermont and New Hampsire that offer CSA programs visit Valley Food & Farm.

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