Giving Away The Farm
by Jennifer Mogensen
A farm share of local produce is the gift that won't stop giving
It nourishes us. It satisfies us. It makes us happy.
We want it, we need it and we use it every day.
It’s the perfect gift: food.
When it comes to gift-giving this holiday season, many ideas may take root but not enough of them—fruitcake aside—involve food. Picking the perfect present is not as easy task. As the adage goes, it’s the thought that counts; and, in this case, thinking locally is fresh thinking.
Purchasing a local food share as a holiday gift will not only bring cheer, it is an offering of goodwill to the farmers in Western New York. The place to turn to for these unique and sustainable gift ideas is Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
CSA, founded in Europe in the 1960s and introduced to the United States in 1984, allows urban dwellers a way to connect with the land.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation, so that the farmland becomes the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support. In return, shareholders receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season.
This basic principle creates a strong sense of community as well as a memorable and environmentally conscious gift.
Several local farms participate in CSA and offer a vast selection of fresh produce. When making the purchase, the giver can choose from several options that best suit the recipient of this delicious present.
Produce from the farms may arrive in the form of fruits or vegetables that are, of course, seasonally appropriate. The harvest changes from week to week and availability of certain foods is dependent on Buffalo’s weather. Most produce shares run from June through October.
A smaller selection of farmers also offers winter shares and poultry.
Depending on your budget, there are generally full- and half-share offerings. Full-share offerings are recommended for a family or group of four, while half-shares suit individuals or couples. Prices vary from farm to farm.
Native Offerings Farm in Little Valley has been growing and reaping since 1997, and they offer the widest selection of options: Summer, Fruit, Winter, and Four Seasons shares are available. Native Offerings brings the harvest to you with weekly pick-up spots in the city and suburbs. The city pick-up is currently located at the corner of Elmwood and Lafayette.
Shareholders enjoy the local food shed of farm fresh greens, root vegetables, herbs, beans, squash, and whatever else happens to grow.
Fruit shares include cherries, apples, raspberries, plums, peaches, pears, and nectarines.
Individual shares start at approximately $190, and all shares sell out rather quickly. Information on the various shares and instructions on purchasing shares is available on the Native Offerings website: www.nativeofferings.com.
Good Food Farm in North Java is one of the only farms that offers poultry to its shareholders.
Depending on the appetite of the lucky person on your list, there is a choice between 10 and 20 organically fed birds. There is no feather-plucking required; the birds are processed and the lean meat is then available throughout the year. The share starts at $120.
Vegetable shares at Good Food Farm include the likes of broccoli, cauliflower, peas, sweet corn, eggplant, shallots, and zucchini. The list goes on and on. Farmer Damian Huber can be reached at 585-535-0487 and will provide you with information on share availability and pricing. Shares are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and shareholders pick up their goods directly from the farm.
Porter Farms in Elba has been in operation since 1956 and sows more than 500 acres of land. They have been taking part in CSA for more than 15 years and are currently taking on new shareholders. The farm offers full produce shares only, and the prices start at $320. Weather permitting, their produce is available June through November. Visit www.porterfarms.org to see what’s “in the bag” each week.
Thorpe’s Family Organic Farm in East Aurora is another CSA farm that offers harvests of both fruits and vegetables. Shares are similar to the other CSA farms. The Thorpe family can be reached at 655-4486.
When choosing to give this tasteful gift, keep in mind that the shareholder may need to drive to the farm to retrieve their goods. Depending on the farm, some require a drive to the farm for the weekly or biweekly pick-ups, while others have drop-off points in the city and suburbs.
Another thoughtful gift, and the ultimate urban stocking stuffer, is a membership to the Lexington Co-operative Market (807 Elmwood Avenue). The Co-op has been nourishing hungry Western New Yorkers for nearly four decades. A membership offers its owners daily savings on the most basic of foods, a vote in board elections, and the opportunity to bank with the Co-op Federal Credit Union.
The Lexington Co-op’s commitment to providing natural, organic, and healthy foods, and its unwavering support of local farmers and producers, is a gift worth giving.
A lifetime membership is $80 and includes a signature Lexington Co-op canvas tote. Stop by the store to pick up a membership application or visit them online at www.lexington.coop for more information.
Another item to add to the list of creative culinary gifts is a donation to the Food Bank of Western New York. The Food Bank works with more than 400 member agencies across the area and feeds thousands of people every month.
Making a donation on behalf of that hard-to-buy for person will feed his or her soul and leave everyone involved very satisfied. Donations may be made on-line at www.foodbankwny.org.
Whether it is a food share, a co-op membership, or a donation to a local food bank, the gift of food is always tasteful.blog comments powered by Disqus
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