CSA partnership takes root

Three local farms are coordinating their efforts to offer fresh local organic produce for Ashland and Talent residents every week starting in June.

"It's a start of a collaboration that will be increasing local derived food and an increasingly locally based food system," Chris Hardy of Village Farm said.

Village Farm, HappyDirt Veggie Patch and Meadowlark Family Farm will each contribute to the Ashland-Talent Growers CSA. A CSA — shorthand for community-supported agriculture — is an arrangement in which people "subscribe" for periodic deliveries of produce throughout the growing season.

"We've all had experience with other CSAs," said Michael DiGiorgio of Village Farm. "The system makes it so we're not all trying to grow the same things."

The agreement enables the three farms to concentrate on fewer crop types.

"When you're trying to do a CSA alone on a farm you have to grow a lot of everything," DiGiorgio said. "People are looking for a diversity of vegetables in their boxes. When you're working with three other farms you can figure out a way to share that load."

In a CSA, subscribers pay in advance and get weekly boxes of produce of whatever is in season.

The advance money helps the farmers buy seeds, tools, fertilizer and other supplies throughout the season, rather than waiting for crops to sell later.

The Ashland-Talent CSA offers "full share" boxes, designed for up to four people for $28 a week, or "half share" boxes for smaller households people at $18 a week.

In addition to the three primary farms, the CSA will include products from partner groups Four Winds Farm, Restoration Farm, RuralCraft and Shanti Acres, as well as local food producers Andy's Organics, Mycoverse, Neighborhood Harvest, OneLeaf Microgreens, Our Local Bounty, Pickled Planet Rogue Valley Brambles, Sunstone Artisan Bakery and Wild Wines.

"Everyone involved is very passionate about developing a sustainable food system," DiGiorgio said.

The CSA will begin deliveries on June 4 and continue through Oct. 15. This spring's late frosts have caused some problems for the growers, and the weather has been less than perfect for agriculture across the valley this spring.

"It's definitely been interesting. Things have been slow," DiGiorgio said. "We have a lot of the stuff in the greenhouse and that stuff is fine, but seeds outside in the soil have not germinated because it's been cold and wet. We start in June because spring is always wild and fluctuates. As long as the nights stay warmer now, we should be fine."

Hardy sees the CSA as another way to connect people with the food they eat.

"The gist of this collaboration comes down to relationship," Hardy said. "Not only with our food, but with each other, from grower to grower and grower to customer and customer to customer — full circle. Sharing the experience of farm to fork. Everything is founded on relationship."

To join, people can access an order form at the Web site, www.atgcsa.wordpress.com or call 541-531-7467.

Myles Murphy is an editor and reporter with the Daily Tidings. Reach him at mmurphy@dailytidings.com.

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