My close friend in Portland was the first to teach me about CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). The vision is individuals choose to partner with their local farmer and in return receive a share of the harvest. In the greater SLC area there are several CSAs to choose from, each providing something different. Kyle and I checked out a large CSA gathering that was held earlier this year at Squatters Pub and got to taste the goods and hear from some of the farmers. Last Monday, my friend Grace and I joined a group of about thirty community folk to tour three local CSA farms. Going backwards we visited Zoe's Garden, where we saw huge artichoke plants and tasted the sweetest yellow cherry tomatoes; East Farms, where we toured the fields of gourds by tractor and got a quick lesson in siphon tube irrigation; and Bell Organic, where we started the morning off with fresh heirloom tomatoes, purple stripped long beans, and yellow and red carrots.
Grace and Joy on the tractor
I was highly impressed by everything I saw and heard at Bell Organic. The farmer David led the discussion and walked us through the life of their farm. We learned how they started on only a half acre and now, over a decade later, are many more acres in and looking to provide food to upwards of 1000 Utah families within their CSA program. They also helped pioneer Utah's first RSA (Restaurant Supported Agriculture) program for local chefs. They are certified organic, welcome volunteers in exchange for produce, and seem invested in getting to know the families whom they serve. We were introduced to David's youngest daughter, "bean girl", and wife Jill later in the tour. I noticed on their website Jill writes a blog about the farm happenings and shares recipes they use. Their program runs from June-October, so for 18 weeks the CSA members receive an assorted box of fresh produce and occasional flowers from the farm. David told us that by the time you receive the produce it is has usually been picked in the previous 12 hours, and no more than 24 hours.
At Bell Organic, a two person share is $450, about $12 a week per person for amazingly delicious local food. They also have larger shares and sometimes offer mid-season shares. Bell Organic partners with other local farmers to provide one easy stop for veggies, fruit, eggs, cheese, honey, and beef if you choose, and there are many convenient pick up locations around town.
How cool is that artichoke plant?!
Before this whole day started we picked up some organic fair trade coffee at The Whistle Stop. Excellent sustainable business if you're in Murray, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City.