Representatives from 15 local farms set up displays and offered the public a chance to meet their farmers face-to-face at Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s fourth annual CSA Fair at Jubilee! Community on Thursday, March 13.
Community supported agriculture programs allow subscribers sign up to receive regularly scheduled boxes of fresh seasonal produce, meats, eggs and even flowers straight from the farm. Subscribers can pick up their bountiful boxes at various locations throughout Buncombe County.
Event volunteer Alicia Ellis facilitated the kids table where children entertained themselves coloring pictures of vegetables and earning stickers for trying new veggies while mom and dad got their CSA on. But these kids were no strangers to healthy foods. Seemingly normal children could be overheard saying things like “kale is my favorite vegetable” — and meaning it.
Paul Littman from Ivy Creek Family Farm had freshly picked spinach and cilantro for sale. This year they’ve added a flower share to their offerings. Subscribers can choose to have 14 weeks of flowers, with a different bouquet each week. Littman was also excited about a new program they are launching at their farm: you-pick bridal bouquets. “Instead of a bridal party where they get their hair and nails done,” Littman says, “brides-to-be can come out with their bridesmaids and have fun picking flowers.”
Frances Tacy of Franny’s Farm in Leicester made a point to attend the event even though she didn’t have a display. “We’re all in it together,” Tacy explains. “These are my people.” According to Tacy, her farm attracts a lot of customers with its farm store and other crowd pleasers such as baby lambs. “Everyone wanted to come pet them,” says Tacy.
Ryan Buxman, owner of Lettuce Bee Farming, rents land in two locations to grow his fare. One plot is in Reems Creek, the other one in Fairview. He rents the Fairview plot from the owner of Mamacita’s Restaurant. Instead of charging rent for the land, the owner gets first pick and a very good price for the veggies he chooses. Buxman then takes the rest to market. This year Buxman is trying to accommodate customers with his flexible CSA. “People can buy a ‘credit’, which they can use to select what they want when they pick up,” says Buxman.
Denise Barratt of Vine Ripe Home Grown Nutrition was serving up samples of her delicious lemony kale salad with roasted vegetables and pecans and was even giving away the recipe. Barratt, a dietician, says she is launching “a new nutritional experience.” The concept, still evolving, was inspired by ASAP’s Growing Minds, a food and nutrition program offered in local schools. Barratt envisions intimate learning experiences for adults, which could involve tailgate market tours, nutrition workshops and cooking instruction. Barratt especially hopes to reach those who may not understand the value of organic or local ingredients and good nutrition.
Weaverville resident Joe Kasben spent time chatting with participating farmers and getting farming tips. “I was born and raised on a farm,” Kasben says. “We’re all tree huggers. I’m here to support them and get some advice.”
For a complete list of participating farms and links to their websites visit www.asapconnections.org.
Photo: Paul Littman of Ivy Creek Family Farm