"Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands."–Thomas Jefferson
Photo courtesy of Broadturn Farm
I grew up in a home where vegetables came from a can, or in a pinch, the freezer section of the supermarket. There may have been the occasional visit to a summer farm stand for tomatoes, but for the most part, farming was a distant and indistinct concept removed from my personal reality. During my years as a young professional in Los Angeles and Washington DC, this distance was even more pronounced.
Moving to Maine in the early 90s put me much closer to my food supply. I live less than a mile from three different working farms. There are farm stands in my town open six months a year. The neighborhood grocery store stocks local produce from May through November. My daughter is engaged to a lobsterman. Farmers' markets abound.
And for the first time, this summer I signed up for a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) farm share. Localharvest.org has a CSA finder on their website that can help you find a CSA almost anywhere in the US. A farm share is a great way to introduce your family to the concept of eating locally. Here, from Local Harvest, whose motto is Real food. Real farmers. Real Community, are a few of the advantages of buying a farm share from a CSA farm near you:
"Advantages for farmers: 1.Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin 2.Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow 3.Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow"
"Advantages for consumers: 1.Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits 2.Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cookingUsually get to visit the farm at least once a season 3.Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat 4.Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown"
I decided to buy a fruit and vegetable farm share at Broadturn Farm in Scarborough, Maine. The farm also sells flower shares, has "pick your own" strawberry fields, and hosts and caters weddings and events.
In the interest of saving time and gas, I also joined a pickup group with two other families in my town. We alternate picking up the weekly shares each Friday. This week was my turn, so I brought my camera, three big canvas bags and headed out to the farm!
Pulling into the dirt road, I was surrounded by 200 acres of fields and woods.
As I head to the farmhouse, I see tiny cottages tucked into the woods.
The first person I met was Samantha, busy at work.
Stacy Brenner greeted me at the barn. She and her partner, John Bliss, run Broadturn farm while raising daughters Emma (14) and Flora (3 1/2). You can read their blog here.
Flora and her friend Briis helped me pick out the weekly offerings which included lettuce, radishes, garlic scapes, beets, bok choy, peas, spinach and strawberries.
Flowers, even edible flowers like Nasturtiums (above), are everywhere around the farm.
All God's children, even his eight-legged ones, are at home on the farm.
Lots of early summer activity in the greenhouse.
Time to deliver the shares to my neighbors.
Home with the bounty of the week.
My first trip to the farm is under my belt. Next step - cooking up a storm. If you want to know more about Broadturn Farm or have more questions about CSAs and farm shares, check out the FAQ page on their website.