All summer long my husband, Sam, and friend Sandy shared a box of fresh, organically grown veggies each week as a member of a CSA (community supported agriculture).
Ron Gagliano (see profile of him in June 2010 on wncwoman.com) is an old friend from the days when we were both in the clothing business.What a surprise it was to learn that he’d become a local farmer in recent years, creating Bee Tree Farm near Mars Hill. But then, he was just following in the footsteps of his Italian grandfather!
If you’re not familiar with a CSA, it’s a great way for farmers to be assured of a market for their produce, and get much-needed capital up front for seeds, etc. As subscribers, we pre-paid for a season’s worth of produce; then we picked up a big box each week from the tailgate market, or sometimes from the farm itself. Early in the season lettuces and various greens predominated.
As the season went by the offerings were broccoli, cauliflower, beans, tomatoes, herbs, cukes, squash and recently a big succulent watermelon. Because Ron, being Italian, loves to cook, he also makes his own tomato sauces and pestos and jams so every couple of weeks he’d surprise us with one of those.
It has been a truly rich experience; we dried a lot of herbs and even froze several bags of chopped tomatoes that will be the base for soups and sauces this winter… yum.
And it’s not just the food, although knowing it was picked that morning, knowing who grew it and how was important. But, in many ways the best was being part of a community, supporting local farms and farmers (when we get to the market on Saturday morning, we see breads and cheeses and flowers and veggies from other local producers, along with home-grown music too). And I just learned that Appleberry Cove Farm (one of our Madison County advertisers, pg 39) sells goat milk for pets… what a great idea!
If you have already read through the magazine this month, you know about a number of small farmers (many of them women) who are part of this growing, dynamic movement. The farm tour sponsored by ASAP featured 41 farms this year. And it’s very timely that this movement is gaining momentum: did you know that since 2005, North Carolina has led the nation in loss of farms and farmland.
It’s vital that we support these up and coming farmers and there are many, many ways to do that. Join a CSA; buy produce directly from them at tailgate markets; purchase produce in stores that buy local; eat at restaurants that feature locally grown or ask your favorite places to do so.
And just think of the benefits to your health and your taste buds!