CSA takes hold in County

By Marhea Pease

Correspondent

What is CSA farming?   CSA stands for community supported agriculture the term is more often used to describe a specific farmer.  Shares of the CSA farm are sold in exchange for money.  The money is used to then get seeds, plant, grow and harvest the crops and then deliver them over an 18-20 week period when the produce is in season. The Central Michigan CSA done by Joe Crawford start drop offs in early June typically, and end sometime in October.

Joe Crawford said, “I was raised on a farm and we maintained large gardens through most of my childhood. So growing vegetables is something I’ve done off and on my entire life.  I began offering CSA shares in 2011.  I’ve operated a successful farm stand for around 5 years and decided to expand into the CSA model as well. The Central Michigan CSA currently serves the Clare Area, Midland, Mt. Pleasant, and Gladwin, we are always open to new pick up locations as interest demands.

He continues, “My main reason for creating the Central Michigan CSA was because I really just liked the idea.  It seemed like great way to offer a service to the public and provided a new challenge. “The CSA membership consist of 4-5 share options. They offer a 1/2 share and a full share.  A full share is designed to feed 4-6 people and the 1/2 share is design for 2-3 people.  Both the full and 1/2 share also come in a “premium” option which simply includes fruit and other specialty items. The entire cost to receive healthy non-GMO produce averages to less than $20 a week for a family of 4.

Once the first items are ready for harvest we start the weekly pickups.  Pickups are every week from the time it starts until the end of the season which is between 18 and 20 weeks for the Central Michigan CSA.

Lettuce, spinach, kale, swiss chard, cabbage, cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, pickles, zucchini, yellow squash, egg plant, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, onions, potatoes, winter squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, chives and other herbs, kohlrabi, apples, strawberries, and much more is available.

“We find that every year offers some lessons to improve both the CSA program and the crops we grow.  We enjoy a great yield from the 5 or 6 acres of produce we grow and look to improve every year by using sustainable growing methods.  Sustainable is pretty simple when it comes to growing food, you need to put more back than you take out.  We accomplish this by planting cover crops during and after the season.  This provides ongoing organic matter and important plant biology under the soil which keeps plants healthy enough to ward off disease and pressure from pests.  We use a growing method which requires less water than traditional irrigation methods and are 100% drought risk free. “

They look forward to growing food for around 150 families for the upcoming 2014 season and possibly extend another pick up location or two.  They share farm updates and new via Newsletter, can find that at www.michiganfarmfreshproduce.com.  They also have a facebook page which is a great place to learn more and get recipe ideas.  Can be found at www.FaceBook.com/MichiganCSAFarm.

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