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Press release from the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP), shared March 11:
ASHEVILLE — Spring officially arrives this week. That means Western North Carolina farmers will soon begin harvesting asparagus, greens and spring onions to sell at farmers tailgate markets and to pack directly for their CSA—or Community Supported Agriculture—farm share subscribers. To help those interested in a CSA find the right one for them, ASAP is hosting their third Asheville CSA Fair on Thursday, March 21, from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Haywood Park Hotel Atrium (site of the winter Asheville City Market). The free family-friendly event is an opportunity to meet area farmers, learn about their CSA programs and products, and purchase a share or shares.
Family farms offering traditional CSAs provide the chance to sign up for a season and receive, via pick up or delivery, a box of produce or meats straight from their farm every week. Many also feature add-on options such as eggs and fresh-cut flowers. Today, there are a growing number of CSAs moving beyond the traditional model with varied subscription sizes and flexible sign-up options. New models even include “shopping” for a CSA box at a farmers market. ASAP’s fair offers the opportunity to ask local CSA farmers what makes them unique.
First-time fair participant and CSA provider Dry Ridge Farm will offer a traditional CSA and a new market option this year.
“In our traditional CSA, customers will buy a three-month membership and receive a box of eggs and meats from chicken to lamb every other week,” says co-owner/operator Wendy Brugh. Then, they’re trying a customizable “Meat Money” CSA, a concept borrowed from a farmer friend up north. Customers will still prepay, but they’ll visit Dry Ridge at the tailgate market to pick out the meat products they want—with each purchase deducted from the prepaid total. “We realize many of our customers would like to support us through a CSA but aren’t as comfortable letting us surprise them with our picks,” notes Brugh. “Meat Money is a way for them to support their farmer and get the products they know how to prepare and know they love!”
Whatever the model, it’s that support that’s key for Brugh, her husband, Graham, and all area CSA providers.
“Both of our CSAs make it easier for us to get a clear idea of how much product we can expect to retail ourselves,” she says. “That, in turn, helps us plan how many restaurants and retailers we can provide product to over time and make clear plans for our farm’s future.”
All participating farms have pickup locations in Asheville. The following 21 diverse Appalachian Grown™ certified CSA providers are slated to attend (participants subject to change):
A Way of Life Farm (Bostic)
Aardvark Farm (Burnsville)
Bee Tree Farm (Marshall)
Blue Meadow Farms (Hendersonville)
Cane Creek Asparagus & Company CSA (Fairview)
Dry Ridge Farm (Mars Hill)
Earth Echoes Herbal CSA (Old Fort)
Fiddlesticks Farm (Old Fort)
First Blossom Farm (Leicester)
Firefly Farm (Burnsville)
Flying Cloud Farm (Fairview)
Flying Fish CSA/Wildwood Herbal (Weaverville)
Full Sun Farm, LLC (Leicester)
Gaining Ground Farm (Leicester)
Gladheart Farm (Asheville)
Ivy Creek Family Farm (Barnardsville)
Jake’s Farm (Candler)
Long Valley Eco-biotic Farm (Marshall)
New Moon Herbs Farm (Fairview)
Whispersholler Farms, LLC (Arden)
Winter Sun Farms at Blue Ridge Food Ventures (Candler)
A local food cooking demo is also planned, along with children’s activities through ASAP’s Growing Minds Farm to School Program. This year’s event is sponsored by the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Haywood Park Hotel. To learn more about the fair and ASAP’s work, visit asapconnections.org. Those unable to attend can browse area farms offering CSAs in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org; the new 2013 print guide hits stands in late April.