Where you buy your food matters. Twenty years ago, if you bought organic, you were buying from family operators. Today, organic has gone corporate. Organic retailers and manufacturers are publically traded and stock market traders want their financial return.
In the shadow of well-known organic brands owned by multinational behemoths like General Mills and ConAgra stands a thin phalanx of local farms building an alternative supply chain. When you choose to buy from these families and neighbors, you feed not just your stomach but really the businesses which will grow around you. It’s not only money in the pocket of the farmer himself, but how those dollars flow to other local farmers and small businesses in your backyard.
A simple example is my potato seed. Last week I drove to Halstad Minnesota to pick up 500 lbs of seed potatoes from Hugh Dufner of Hugh’s Gardens. Hugh has worked the trenches of organic production and marketing for a long time, and, like many I’ve known in organic farming, he is more motivated by healthy foods and farming than a dream of some potato empire.
When I visited his warehouse, I was impressed by the activity. Five people were employed working the wash and packing line, a real buzz of activity in a seemingly sleepy town.
An even more inspiring part of Hugh’s story is how he is actively transitioning his business. Instead of liquidating or selling out to some of the many new large operators jumping into the organic market, he instead is training in two young farm operators to take over. They are buying a home and moving up to Halstad. This is what a true organic food movement looks like. We not only grow without pesticides, but we deliver on the promise of organics to contribute to the wealth of rural communities.
Too often as corporations enter into organic food, they employ their same old tried and true tactics: drive down price by squeezing suppliers and cutting labor and wages. Their replacement of family-based businesses may save you 10 cents on your next food purchase, but I assure you that your rural communities becomes all the poorer for it. Instead, please seek out local producers like ourselves who are committed a local food system that benefits our Main Streets, not Wall Street.
Fergus dropsite is filled, but we still have room in Pelican Rapids, Detroit Lakes, and Perham on Friday afternoon. See http://www.lidafarm.com/p/2012-csa-information.html or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Now that MPR started their winter member drive this week, it’s about time for us to sign up new and returning members for our 2016 season. All details are at the CSA info page on this website.
Is a CSA Right for Me?
All told, the magic of any CSA is eating and cooking with the season. I have found that CSA does not work for everybody. In my experience, these are the types of people for whom a CSA arrangement works:
- You cook from scratch: The number one reason people do not sign up for a second year in a CSA is because ‘it’s too much food.’ We are constantly thinking about the right portions for any veggie in the box. For example, we will put in about a pound of beans (enough for a meal or two), but not some crazy amount just because we have a lot. If you aren’t in the habit of cooking, look out because it just keeps coming. A lot of folks on the fence will sign up for every-other-week deliveries, so that would be eight deliveries over four months.
- You are a bit adventurous: We are always thinking about the right mix of crops to fill out the season. We make sure everybody receives the staples you’d expect like sweet corn, tomatoes, and green beans. These staples are 80% of the veggies we grow, but we do sprinkle in some items which you may not be familiar with like fresh fennel, herbs, and some greens. Sure, you will receive standard green leaf head lettuce, but one week you may get a pretty red oakleaf lettuce or red butterhead. I do want our members to ‘live a little’ and try some new things…this is part of the fun. We supply a good mix and we will never send out a box with only ‘weird stuff.’
- You are committed to making it work: Being a CSA member isn’t like joining the army; it’s not that much of a commitment. However, a box is coming every week or every other week no matter what for four months and it needs somebody to take care of it. We don’t want to leave veggies on your doorstep to wilt in the sun for three days because you are out of town. We simply ask that you pay attention and communicate so things work for everybody. You will receive an email from us each week and invitations to some events over the season, including the ‘rules of the road’ about returning your box (keeps some stuff out of a landfill) and other logistical details. We’re pretty flexible and we simply ask that you make it work on you end.
- You are willing to share in the risks: The philosophy behind CSA is that both the farmer and the eater are sharing the risks of the season together. We haven’t missed a weekly box in over ten years of being CSA operators, but there is always the risk that a tornado will hit the farm and we’re out of commission for the season. This is a risk we take together. Members are our insurance policy. If the growing season is good, you receive greater abundance than if the growing season is bad. We can’t control mother nature.
Now’s the time of year when we all look toward spring. We’re putting winter behind us and dream of warmth, sunshine, and summer harvests. I’ve found that this is also the time of year when people start thinking about signing up for CSA shares.
2015 will mark our 10th season operating a CSA and I think we have a long list of reasons why to choose Lida Farm for 2015:
- Certified Organic: Last year we certified to assure folks that we’re “doing it right.” We invest in building soil to produce healthy crops without chemicals and GMOs,
- Clean Energy : We power our farm with carbon-free wind and solar power. Our Ventera wind turbine provides a majority of the farm’s electrical needs and we recently installed solar thermal panels to heat our winter greenhouse.
- Small-scale Family Farm: We’re pretty much the opposite of big ag. All produce which you receive is grown, cultivated, washed, and packed by Ryan and Maree Pesch with some assistance from our friend and apprentice Kelsey Wulf. Our three children make up the rest of the workforce, but their contributions are hit and miss. We’re hoping for 50 shares in 2015.
- Delivered Shares: One feature many of our members enjoy is that their CSA box simply shows up on their doorstep. We deliver every Friday directly to home or businesses in Pelican Rapids, Detroit Lakes, Vergas, Cormorant, and many lakes in between. We have limited shares delivered to a dropsite in Fergus Falls on Tuesdays.
- On-farm Experiences: The fall harvest party may be reason enough to join. We also invite members to pick peas, beans, tomatoes, and a jack-o-lantern.
We offer two kinds of CSA shares: a full/family share where you receive a 3/4 bushel box of what’s in season every week for 16 weeks and an every-other-week share (8 deliveries over 16 weeks). We also expect to do fall storage shares and some winter shares with details forthcoming.
Full share (3/4 bushel box each week for 16 weeks):
- Pick up at farm – $435 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
- Delivered – $485 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
Every-other-week share (3/4 bushel box every other week):
- Pick up at farm – $235 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
- Delivered – $265 (receive 2014 price if sign up by March 15)
*You will receive a 20% discount if using SNAP benefits to have your assistance go further.
Sign up: Fill out this order form. To confirm that you are in our delivery area or whether we have shares still available (especially if you’re reading this in May or later), please contact Ryan or Maree at 218-342-2619 or email@example.com.
It’s annual membership drive here at Lida Farm. We’re finally starting to come out of hibernation and looking towards the next farm season. But to make things happen, we need you. Check out details about the CSA on the 2014 CSA Information page. If you sign up between now and March 15, you’ll receive a free copy of an excellent cookbook to assist you to eat through the season called Simply in Season (one cookbook per membership).
|Sweet Sundog Picture Mar took during a December cold snap
We’ll this is week number one for our 8th CSA season as Lida Farm! I’m feeling good about where we’re heading and I think it’ll be a great season.
I think individual farms have their own “take” on agriculture and how their farm fits in the world; this is probably even more important for CSA operations where people choose an operation to make “their farm” for the season. My own farm philosophy is geared towards three things: soil, people, and community.
We are committed to growing our produce without the use of any synthetic chemicals EVER (we haven’t use a chemical on the place for the 8 years we’ve lived here). We also do the best we can to build the soil as much as possible each year, incorporating livestock into our operation and interplanting cover crops to fix nitrogen and add organic matter.
People are the core of our operation. We do our utmost to make sure our members and farmers market customers get clean, quality food. I love the feeling of knowing we are helping to feed families and giving them a direct connection to farming. I love getting to know people who eat our food and learning about what their interested in. We’re going to have a few events over the season this year to make connecting a bit easier, including an open house and fall feast so stay tuned. We want our farm to be your farm, so please make a point to attend some events or simply come out and visit!
Lastly, community is big for us. Not only our local communities of Pelican Rapids and Vergas, but also our fellow local farmers. Just as local residents support us in becoming CSA members and customers, we in turn support our local businesses. Building up a stronger local economy in our little rural part of the state is a core part of our mission and I feel so much more can be accomplished if we all cooperate together. We also take on a role of educating the community on sustainable agriculture. For the last 3 years we’ve hosted Pelican Rapids early childhood classes in the fall and the local 4-H club was out just last week.
In the Box:
- Bok Choy
- Garlic Scapes – the curly green bunch. Think of scapes and use them as garlic-y green onions. You can also use them in place of garlic cloves; they’ll be a bit more mild than garlic cloves.
- Arugula – the bunch of greens which look like elongated oak leaves. This can be eaten fresh or steamed or in a pasta; a traditional Italian green. I prefer as a simple side salad with parmesan, oil, pepper, and some balsamic vinegar.
- Radishes – some got cherry belle (red variety) and others got French breakfast variety (look like long pink/white bobbers).
- Red Russian Kale – big bunch of purple greens. These need to be cooked. I typically do kale with sauteed bacon and onions and then simmer down the cropped greens for 10 minutes or so.
- Green Onions
- Salad Mix (in the bag) or Romaine Lettuce
- Spinach – loose greens with the pink roots
Stir-Fired Bok Choy from the Food Network
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- Salt and ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add bok choy and soy sauce cook 3 to 5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.
I suggest you use the garlic scapes in this recipe in place of the garlic cloves – it’ll work fine.
Our first CSA delivery of fresh in-season produce will be coming up in a few weeks. We’re a small operation which is totally family run. Maree and I both the owner/operators and the entire workforce of Lida Farm (plus three kids under the age of 7, but they are not great contributors yet). Last year I harvested for and assembled about 30 shares each Friday. We currently stand at about 27 shares, so it’s not too late to sign up.
Our season runs for 16 weeks (Mid-June through Mid-October) and we also do every-other-week shares for couples or families which just want to try out a CSA. The cost is $450 for a full share delivered directly to your home or $250 for every other week. We also give a $50 discount if you pick up at the farm yourself (at $400/season, this is $25/week). Besides the produce we will also be hosting a few events on-farm for the 2012 season for our members. Check out details under “Join our CSA” on this website or get a hold of us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-342-2619.
|CSA box from June, 2011