It’s that time of year when our minds start racing around trying to think of the perfect gifts for our families and friends. Instead of buying a lousy gift card, give your favorite foodie or locavore a CSA share, a gift that keeps on giving.
A CSA, or community supported agriculture, is a commitment between a farmer and a consumer. Consumers pay for individual shares prior to harvest and in return, the farmer supplies each member with his or her individual shares, or yield, every week for the contracted season. It’s important to remember produce will vary from week to week – nature rules.
In order to secure the livelihood of the farmer, members share the risk of agricultural hardship or unforeseen circumstances with the farmer, such as drought or crop failure. However, these risks are minimized through planning and plant diversity.
A CSA membership promotes land stewardship and directly supports local farmers and farms, such as our new partner, Shirley, and her farm, the Happy Valley Berry Farm. Through CSA memberships, consumers and farmers share the connection between local agriculture and the community.
Happy Valley Berry Farm, owned and farmed by Shirley Kline, is a six acre, pesticide free, vegetable and small fruit farm situated in Cumberland County, NJ, approximately forty-five miles from Swarthmore Food Coop. HVBF has thirteen high tunnels where raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and a variety of vegetables grow year round.
High tunnels differ from greenhouses in that they are not heated nor do they have mechanical ventilation. The tunnels eliminate rain and dew, thus depriving disease causing organism of a favorable environment. Row covers are used for excluding insect pests on low growing plants or for early protection while the plant remains small. Biological control is also used on the farm, including the use of predatory mites to control pest mites on raspberries, blackberries, and tomatoes. Crop rotation keeps pest numbers lower and to reduce the incidence of soilborne disease.
HVBF CSA is unique as it includes fruit and vegetables, unlike many other CSAs, which strictly provide one or the other. Currently, Happy Valley Berry Farm provides the Co-op with a number of products, including summer berries and winter greens. The Co-op and HVBF are excited to start their new partnership with year round, seasonal CSA shares.
The HVBF Spring CSA share will run for 14 weeks for a payment of $350. If you are interested in purchasing a 2014 Spring CSA share, all checks are due by March 7 at the Swarthmore Co-op.