Red Root Herb and Vegetable Farm CSA

By on 10 September, 2012 in Cooking, Farming, Food, Kate and Stephen with 0 Comments

If you’re like the average person, you may have heard about the virtues of “eating local.” You may be willing to pay a few extra cents to know that the food you’re eating (and the soil it came from) didn’t get doused in toxic pesticides. And you may simply believe (correctly) that locally-sourced food simply tastes better.

But if you’re like the average person, you don’t know exactly what to do with these beliefs. Sure, you may stop from time to time at the pickup truck with produce, hoping to score a watermelon or some tomatoes with actual flavor to them. But that’s an irregular thing, and is really more of a luxury than a way to plan your meals for the week. Most of the time, you shop at the grocery store and just put into your basket whatever looks good, regardless of where it comes from or how it was grown. You may have your favorites, or you may be an adventurous shopper trying new things, but the basic process is pretty much the same every week.

Enter a concept called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). What the CSA allows is a person to essentially “subscribe” to a farm. Instead of grabbing some veggies off of a refrigerated shelf in a corporate grocery store (where they were probably trucked in from some other state, or other country), a CSA subscriber gets locally-sourced vegetables along with the knowledge that the purchase is an investment in a small farm.

Montgomery has two CSAs — one run by the Hampstead Institute and one from a small organic farm in Pike County called Red Root Farm. We’re Red Root subscribers, so can’t speak to Hampstead, but we know they have a waiting list, so they must be pretty good. We do Red Root because (conflict of interest alert), they’re family, but also because we have never been unhappy with our investment.

Canvas bags brimming with veggies are dropped off at El Rey Burrito Lounge once a week, along with a little note from the farmer talking about conditions at the farm, a few comments about the bag’s contents, and, once in a while, a recipe or two. It is actually a lot of fun to not know for sure what you’re getting from week-to-week. Even though we are often control freaks in many aspects of our lives, we like being forced to adapt our weekly menus to whatever the farmer might have ready and available in a given week. It’s a fun challenge to spend a bit of time in cookbooks (and on the Internet) searching for a recipe right for an unfamiliar ingredient.

But mostly, the produce is familiar stuff — and with a taste that you just can’t find in the grocery store. If you grew up in the south, getting greens from a local farm is like going back in time, to the time when leafy collards or turnips had a certain earthy and nourishing impact. And there is something primal about connecting your diet to what will and won’t grow during a certain time of year.

You sign up for a growing season, usually around 15 weeks or so. The farmer will keep you up to date on how things are growing and often invites CSA subscribers to go and visit the farm and see their vegetables while they are in the process of becoming food. Over the years that we have been subscribers, the farmer sometimes will extend the growing season and distribute any leftovers that are still in the field at the end of the season.

Hampstead may have a waiting list, but Red Root is looking for new subscribers. Contact info can be found on Red Root’s Facebook page. More info about Alabama CSAs can be found in this Dothan Eagle article. And a few pics of what you might get in your weekly Red Root bag can be found here and here.

The full CSA lasts for 15 weeks. A subscription to all this vegetable goodness is $375, paid in full or in installments. It will start the first week in October. For more information, call Gary Weil at the farm: 334-697-0519. Invest in local, sustainable agriculture!

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a cat, a dog, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.

 

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