CSA in the USA (and WNC)

Happy meals: Community Supported Agriculture gives a boost to both farmers and customers during the growing season. image courtesy ASAP

Just what is a CSA farm share anyway?

It’s Community Supported Agriculture, the folks at the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project explain. The basic idea: When you become a CSA farm share member, you pay the farmer in advance for "shares" of the season's bounty. When the radishes, kale and more start growing (or eggs start hatching, depending on what your farmer offers), you get to enjoy a steady supply of fresh foods — from meats to veggies, straight from the farm every week.

This Saturday, March 26, interested residents get a chance to meet the farmers, learn more about how CSAs work and sign up for their share. The fair will be held at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company's Coxe Avenue location. The event is from 2 to 6 p.m. Farmers need to be there by 1 or 1:15 to set up, says one of the organizers, Nicole Delcogliano. “We suggest folks bring photos of their farm; flyers, postcards or brochures about their CSA program; and taste tests of their products, if applicable,” she says.

What should residents bring? Questions and your tastebuds.

For more information and CSA updates, visit ASAP’s website, asapconnections.org.

Head ‘em up

The Southeast Livestock Exchange will hold its first livestock sale of the season at the new Western North Carolina Regional Livestock Center (474 Stock Drive in Canton) on Monday, March 21, at noon.

“The WNC Regional Livestock Center is a grass-roots vision of area producers and family farmers that has come to fruition,” states L. T.  Ward, vice president of WNC Communities, a regional nonprofit that helped create the new center. As a an economic development program for the livestock industry, the center focuses on providing a long-term, viable market to sell livestock (the new center replaces one that closed in 2004); a program to improve the quality of the herd; and a way for local producers to have access to buyers who are willing to pay top dollar for quality beef. The access to buyers will come through the relationship with Southeast Livestock Exchange, the entity selected to operate the market.

After the season opener, future sales will be conducted on subsequent Mondays. Cattle can be received at the WNC Regional Livestock Center on Sundays from 1 to 7 p.m. and Mondays beginning at 7 a.m.

All livestock traffic should use the industrial entrance to the new market: Freedom Drive to Beaverdam Road. The following are specific directions traveling from the east or west.  From Interstate-40 West, take Exit 33 (Newfound Road); at the off-ramp, continue straight on Freedom Drive. At the stop sign at the bottom of the hill, make a left on Beaverdam. Stock Drive is on the right.  From I-40 East, take Exit 33 and turn left, driving over the interstate. Take a left on Freedom Drive, and follow the above directions.

The WNC Regional Livestock Center has been made possible through the generous support of over $3 million dollars in funding from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, Golden LEAF Foundation, NC Rural Center, Appalachian Regional Commission, NC Agricultural Development Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, International Paper, along with critical local contributions from counties, businesses and producers. WNC Communities is the result of two longtime organizations merging — Western North Carolina Associated Communities and Western North Carolina Development Association. It’s “dedicated to providing a unique forum for leaders in the mountain region of North Carolina to convene, collaborate and carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities and enhance the economy of the agriculture sector.” (wnccommunities.org)

For more information, contact the WNC Regional Livestock Center at (828) 646-3700.

Cold-weather gardening by Winter Green

Here’s a tip on an upcoming event we saw posted at the Asheville Citizen-Times garden blog by Polly McDaniel: Local garden nonprofit Winter Green is partnering with Slow Food Asheville for a cold-weather gardening program on Saturday, March 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Community High School in Swannanoa. "We will showcase the vegetables we currently have growing in our hoop houses, high tunnels and low tunnels. We also will provide instruction and ideas on: how to grow produce in a hoop house; the benefits of winter growing; and the basic structure of hoop houses,” McDaniel quotes the Winter Green folks. "The event is limited to 20 participants with a $10 per person cost. Register by Friday, March 25, by e-mailing amagreen@gmail.com or calling 242-2578.”

For more information, visit winter-green.org.

— Send your garden-and-farm news to news@mountainx.com or call News Editor Margaret Williams at 251-1333, ext. 152.

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