Join Our CSA Program!
Friends appear in the funniest of places. I started writing our blog full time back in the spring of 2016. It was the first time that I really felt like a real writer, with a plan of action and some content to write about rather than just my daily life. Little did I know that my love of growing plants would soon expand into a small farm, equipped with chickens and ducks and bees and over 2 acres of diverse produce. Wow! I am still in shock, awe, and honestly some nervous fear of what the future will hold, in whether we fail, tread, or succeed. The thing is all failure can be looked at as success in our eyes for we are still learning to be farmers!
It was in the winter of 2016 that I received a message in my inbox from a reader with the subject line, "Chickens!" At that time, I had been talking about chickens here on the blog in hypothetical terms, dreaming of spring when we would get our own birds. It was from a woman that would soon become one of my very best friends, Cara Slaubaugh of Wild Farm Soap. She had a few laying hens that she was looking to relocate and wondered if I would be interested in taking them. We didn't have a coop or anything yet, so I had to decline, but asked her to coffee to see if she could help me learn to keep chickens of my own in the spring! I am so glad that I asked. I am very quiet and introverted, so it was bit unlike my behavior, but I discovered a woman after my own heart, my soul sister, and I am so thankful. We discovered a shared love of sustainable farming and growing/raising natural food. Now another winter has passed, and we have decided to start a CSA program together. As two women who absolutely love knowing where our food is coming from and supporting the local small farm movement, we knew that this would be the perfect adventure for us.
What is CSA?
It's an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. There are many ways that farmers can bring food to your table: selling to a grocery store, the farmer's market, or directly into your hands right off of the farm. CSA's are unique and beautiful in that way. While you can get to know your farmer at a local farmer's market, a CSA allows you to visit the farm and see up front and personal how your food is being grown and raised. I love that, and I found that fascinating. It was part of the reason why we decided that Iowa would be our forever home. Never had we lived in a place where we could just walk up to a small produce stand on the side of the road and purchase a handful of fresh vegetables from someone's garden. It's a really common practice in the area that we live in, and I am so thankful for it. The other day, I was just talking with a friend who grew up in our neighborhood all her life and realized for the first time that she never purchases meat, dairy, or really any fresh food from the grocery store. Community food sharing is still largely at practice in rural Iowa, and I want to continue to grow and share in that practice.
As this will be our first time ever trying a CSA program, we are keeping it small and using this year as an experimental one. Our little farm will be growing enough fresh produce to feed 8 other families of 4 people! Of course, this is subjective to how much your family eats and the size of it, and we are willing to work around your personal needs. Cara and her husband Shawn raise pastured pork and chicken; they'll be providing our share boxes with meat every week. Having personally eaten their chicken and pork, it is absolutely delicious, and I think many of you know that I have chosen to no longer eat meat that isn't raised locally. There is definitely a difference in quality that cannot be beat. All of our produce will be grown with natural practices (we are not certified organic, but we still follow their certification guidelines and do not spray or use treated seeds). You can learn more about our growing practices and the way our meat is raised on our CSA Program Page. Our biggest mission is to share food that has been grown and raised with love and free from GMOs, synthetic pesticides, and confinement. It's fresh and natural and real!
How Does CSA Work?
All CSA programs are different! Ours consists of 18 weeks of boxes, one box a week. Like I said before, we will be taking on 8 families this year, so that means we only have 8 shares available for purchase! If you are interested in our program, you'll pay our fee up front (we can split it if needed), and come stop by the farm on a pick-up day to grab your weekly box. This will happen for 18 weeks, June through October, and we are thinking of ending the season with a big harvest supper hosted at the farm! Won't that be fun? It makes me feel all giddy just thinking about it!
At this time, we are trying to keep things simple. I am sure the next question is, what comes inside of the box? We will be filling up your weekly shares with enough produce and meat to feed your family for the week. This will be selection of fresh vegetables and herbs, meat (either pork or chicken), and a bouquet of fresh cut flowers. Our farms will also offer seasonal special items like aronia berries, apples, strawberries, pastured turkey, honey, free range eggs, and more! You have the option to add on items and share with our seasonal bounties. Because we grow seasonally, that means each month and each week will differ. In June, more greens and early root vegetables will be available; as we enter the autumn season that leads to more fruiting veggies like tomatoes and cucumbers, squash and berries. You will be eating with the land, and we love that about CSA! Learn more about what comes inside of a share here.
How Can I Sign Up?
Ready to try our program? That makes me so excited! If you are local to us (I wish I could share this with our readers from all over), we are located in Wellman, Iowa which is just south of Iowa City. Our program has an estimated start date of June 10th - that would be the first day of picking up your weekly box! For now, our pick up days will be directly on the farm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12 - 6 PM. We are hoping to be vendors at the Iowa City farmer's market, so that could potentially be a pick up location on Saturdays as well!
How much is it? Our up front share cost for the entire 18 weeks is $745.00. That's about $42 a week for fresh, naturally grown produce and pastured meat. Yum! At this time, we are asking for an up front payment to cover our costs and help feed our own families. We hope in the future to be able to allow payment programs for our CSA members. We do, however, have an option for you to donate to a community fund for a family that needs financial help. Everyone deserves fresh food. If you'd like to donate to our community fund, you can say so on our sign up form.
We are hoping to receive sign ups soon! If you are considering joining our program, we ask that you please apply before the end of March so that we may make accommodations for your family. This is going to be a really exciting year for all involved!
Not a Creative Cook or Don't Live Local to Us?
You can still benefit from our program! As many of you know, I am all about eating a whole food, seasonal diet. Whether you are growing your own food or shopping at your farmer's market, you can purchase a lot of what we will be sharing with our CSA members. Because I don't want any of that food to go to waste, I will be starting a separate CSA Recipe Blog here on the site to share seasonal recipes dedicated to what is in your box each week! For all of our members, these will be meal ideas to try out, and for those who live farther away you can get some awesome seasonal, plant based ideas to work out. I think it's going to be really fun! You can also join our newsletter, which will feature other food storage tips and recipes too.
This dream of being able to grow and share food was something that I did not think would be achievable. Even now, as I type this, I know there are many (including me some days!!!) that think this tiny CSA program will not be possible. The thing is, even though our farm is small, I find that this idea of sharing food with just the right amount of people, of families, is the way that our ancestors once lived. The average small farm can only feed 19 people, and I think that is the way it should be. I would rather feed 20 people with most amazing food possible than a thousand with terrible quality food, and I want one of those 20 people to be you! We are looking for families who are passionate about learning where their food comes from, about getting back to a slower and simpler way of life, about cooking wholesome meals at home with their families. I think that we can build some awesome relationships with this program, and I am so open to having you stop by and come cut your own greens straight from the garden, tie up a bundle of fresh herbs, and design your own floral bouquet. Come get your hands dirty and make some friends! This is a community, and we want you to feel welcomed to it. What do you say? Sign up, and let me hear from you! Let's make this world a better place and support local farmers.