The model of community supported agriculture is more than a half-century old. But the 10th annual CSA Fair, to be hosted by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project on Thursday, March 12, at New Belgium Brewing Co., will have more new farmers than ever before sharing information about their programs.
“We are seeing growth in farms looking at this model and seeing the fair as a good way for new farms to find their customer base,” says ASAP communications coordinator Sarah Hart. Of the 10 farms signed up for the event at press time, half are fair first-timers: Bearwallow Valley Family Farms, The Bird & The Beasts’ Farmstead, Colfax Creek Farm, Mighty Gnome Market Garden and Watershed Forest Farm.
“Colfax Creek Farm is a meat and eggs CSA,” Hart says. “Mighty Gnome Market Garden has sold at tailgate markets as Stone Crop, but they have changed their name. Watershed Forest Farm is a little different in that, in addition to harvested produce, they do some foraged forest products as well.”
Some of the new farmers are coming from other careers, Hart points out. She cites Nicole Coston, who with her husband owns Bearwallow Valley Family Farms. “Nicole was a dietitian and has been connected to ASAP for a while as a dietetic intern and did a lot of work with our Growing Minds farm-to-school program. Now she has turned to farming and is bringing her dietitian’s experience and eye to that,” says Hart.
Highgate Farm in Madison County is not new to farming, CSAs or the fair. “CSA membership is so important to farms,” says owner Melissa Harwin, who operates Highgate with farmer John Kunkle. “CSA members help us manage expenses by providing funds to start the CSA season.”
Harwin describes ASAP’s CSA Fair as a matchmaking event for farmers and buyers. “We love talking with and making connections with potential CSA members at the fair,” she says. “It’s such a great way to get to know one another to ensure the right fit. A good match means a happy customer.”
Joe Evans, manager of Olivette Farm in Alexander, is a familiar face at Saturday’s Asheville City Market and the CSA Fair. He’ll be at the fair signing up people for Olivette’s traditional box CSA, which is a 20-week, weekly share running mid-May through the end of October, or the farm’s Market Share, which runs during tailgate market season and offers more flexibility. Evans will also be selling fresh-picked, bagged, mixed lettuce and greens.
Hickory Nut Gap Meats CSA manager Jennifer White will be there offering information about the Fairview-based farm’s year-round monthly CSA shares of beef and pork, as well as chicken, which is available late May through the end of November.
Not surprisingly given the location, there will be beer to purchase.
The CSA Fair takes place 3-6 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at New Belgium Brewing Co., 21 Craven Street. For details, visit asapconnections.org/events/csa-fair.