Where consumers and farmers both win:
Shares in Rollinsford farm’s output for sale
The public will have an opportunity to support local agriculture and bring fresh food to their tables for the entirety of the season on Saturday, Feb. 26.
Wentworth Greenhouse, located at 141 Rollins Road, will host a Community Supported Agriculture Day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. where a number of local farms will have sign-ups for those interested in becoming a CSA shareholder. Seacoast Eat Local has coordinated the free event where vendors will offer sign-ups for CSA shares as well as offerings of select products.
CSA creates a direct partnership between the consumer and the farmer, as members can pay in advance to pick up a regularly allotted share of fresh, local harvest products. CSA shares are for people who want to eat healthy, support local agriculture and connect to the land where the food they will eat is grown.
Those participating in the CSA Day event include: Brookford Farm, Heron Pond Farm, Meadow’s Mirth, Moondance Gardens, Riverside Farmstand and Greenhouse, Stonewall Farm, Osprey Cove Organic Farm, Two Toad Farm, Eastman’s Local Catch, Farmer Dave’s CSA, Red Manse Farm, Wake Robin Farm, Wild Miller Gardens, Willow Pond Community Farm and Apple Crest Farm Orchards.
Though each share offers different products depending on the farm, most shares include items such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, turnips, broccoli, cucumbers, tomatoes, seasonal squash, peas, and culinary herbs. Select farms offer add-on items as well, including grains, eggs, dairy and meat products. Prices per share range anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on the size of the share, the products included in the share and the length of the share.
Rae Avery, owner of Moondance Gardens, is in her second year of offering CSA shares. Avery said last summer she had 24 shareholders and expects to see that number double during this year’s sign up event.
“It creates a great relationship between the consumer and the farmer,” said Avery, as shareholders of her farm’s harvest pick up their portions of the crops once a week at Moondance.
According to Mary Brower, spokesperson for Brookford Farm, this is the farm’s third year participating in the CSA program. Unlike most other farms, which have a structured share system, Brookford offers a build-your-own share system.
“Some people want less produce during different seasons,” said Brower of her unique CSA system. “There’s no sense in forcing someone to take home something they won’t use.”
Brookford shareholders are offered more than the typical list of vegetables. Brower said shareholders have the option of choosing vegetables, dairy products, meat, eggs and grains when creating their personalized share. Last year, Brower said Brookford had around 80 shareholders. After receiving a wave of positive feedback throughout each season, Brower said she expects to have a total of 150 shareholders following this year’s sign-up process.
Like Brookford Farm, Heron Pond Farm works with shareholders to provide accessible and affordable shares of produce. By offering three different pickup locations in Dover, Portsmouth and South Hampton, Heron Pond shareholders can pick up fresh produce once a week at a location that accommodates their daily routine.
Though most farms require payment for a share in full at the time of the sign-up or within a few weeks of doing so, Heron Pond offers a flexible payment plan to shareholders so they won’t be turned away from receiving healthy foods each week. Having been a part of CSA for more than six years, Heron Pond brings in around 400 shareholders each year.
Though not a farm, Eastman’s Local Catch of Seabrook will be participating in the Saturday event as well. According to Carolyn Eastman, her company is a CSF, or Community Supported Fishery. Eastman and her husband, Ed, offer freshly caught fish right off their boat in Seabrook. Shareholders can pre-purchase fish by the pound, and Eastman and her husband filet and package the fish for pick-up.
“The community gets a fresh, local product for a great price,” said Eastman. “It helps to support the fishing industry as well, as the fisherman receives the money directly rather than hiring and paying a company to transfer the fish to a market.”
As this is their third year offering CSF shares, Eastman said she expects to see the number of shareholders increase from last year’s 429 shareholders come Saturday. Not only will Eastman be offering sign-ups for shares of fish, she will also be selling portions of shrimp.
For more information on CSA and on the Feb. 26 event, visit http://www.seacoasteatlocal.org/winterfarmersmarkets/csaday.html.