Are you taking part in the latest healthy food trend? Are you a member of a CSA? Right now, you may be saying, “A CS what?!” Don’t fret, because I’m here to get you in the know, and share lots of great details with you about this wonderful program!
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” It is a way for you to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become “members” (or “shareholders,” or “subscribers”) of the CSA. Basically, your fees early in the season help the farmers when they have most of their upfront costs–and in return you reap the benefits of their hard work in the form of farm-fresh, wonderfully-varied weekly produce. Now that’s what I call a symbiotic relationship! 🙂
CSAs have gained popularity in recent years. More and more people like the idea of knowing exactly where their food comes from, how it was grown/raised, and whether or not is was exposed to pesticides. Folks are also increasingly concerned with supporting farmers that use practices that are ecologically responsible.
Background on Basket of Life Farm in Peninsula, OH
Basket of Life Farm is the brain-child of husband and wife, Eric and Heather Walters. They’ve been at this CSA thing for eight years–the last five at their location on Quick Road in Peninsula. The Walters have a 60 year lease on their 30 acres of land in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Last year, Basket of Life Farm provided produce to 90 shareholders and their families. Impressive to me, some families come from as far as Parma, Lakewood, and Beechwood to pick up their shares and be part of the CSA experience – wow!
Heather told me they have a good number of folks purchasing half shares this season (picking up every other week rather than weekly). She thinks this has to do with the fact that many folks also enjoy growing some of their own produce in their backyards, and/or frequenting local farmers’ markets. A weekly summer share should provide a family with about five meals worth of veggies. Some summer and fall memberships are still available. The produce varies weekly, depending on what is ready to be harvested. And let me tell you, they have TONS of variety planned this season! In Heather’s words, “A spirit of adventure is really helpful when it comes to a CSA.” That goes for the farmers, AND the shareholders.
Basket of Life Farm uses natural and sustainable growing techniques. Any chemicals they use are certified organic or natural. For example, Eric and Heather use things such as baking soda to control mildew, and garlic oil or clay applied through a sprayer for pest control. For me, this is such an important point, and was my impetus for seeking out Basket of Life Farm for our produce. I worry about my family’s exposure to all the pesticides out there.
More than Just Great Produce!
Eric and Heather want their CSA to be more than just a place to pick up great produce. They want to be a place of education and socialization as well. Throughout the year, they will be hosting several special events at the farm–some are open to the public, others are just for members of the CSA. And let me tell you, Heather and Eric hold a wealth of useful information! Just chatting with Heather over coffee a few weeks ago got me all pumped up for learning some natural methods to help my home garden be a success this summer! A few neat upcoming events are:
- April 23, 2011 4-6 p.m. – Your Own Vegetable Garden Class – Discussions will include: starting seeds, preparing the ground, feeding your garden, natural pest and disease control. Products will also be offered for sale.
- May 21, 2011, 4-8 p.m. – Spring Member Pot Luck and Movie in the Barn
- June 25, 2011, 4-6 p.m. – Preserving the Seasons Class – Learn about the ways to help the bounty of summer last all year long. Discussions and demonstrations will center around canning, root cellaring, drying, dehydrating, and other food storage methods. I hear Heather has some sort of dry ice demo planned this day too–hmmm…
What’s New This Year at Basket of Life Farm
The Walters are definitely not resting on their laurels! Check out what they have been working on for 2011:
- Chickens! Yes, Basket of Life Farm now has 150 laying hens. These pastured hens should produce about 65 dozen eggs/week. Eggs will be available to members for an additional charge.
- Broiler Chickens – later this year they will begin raising Red Broilers-a breed from France. These free range birds will be pastured and offered supplemental feed containing no animal biproducts.
- Heather and Eric are expecting to have a farm stand on the property this year.
- They also hope to be a featured vendor at the Howe Meadow Farmers’ Market.
For more information on Basket of Life Farm, including application forms for their CSA, please go to their website: www.basketoflifefarm.com.
This was not a paid post. My own opinions were used based on my perceptions and experience.