Since I grow a garden most of the year and buy in bulk for preservation projects, I don’t opt for a summer CSA (community supported agriculture farm produce share). But since I get extremely busy in the fall and extremely cold and wet in the winter, I happily rely on winter CSAs to get me through.
For the past few years, I’ve bought a share in Open Oak Farm’s winter CSA because they grow vegetables I like, plenty of escaroles, and offer a bean and grain supplement with locally grown dried beans and whole grains and flours. Alas, they have decided to stop the CSA this year, and you can see why from the photos above of their seed development activities at a recent farm open house. All these vegetables need to be cleaned and turned into seed over the wet months.
Alas, winter CSAs are few and far between. I’ve also enjoyed Good Food Easy from Sweetwater Farm in the past, which has a flexible CSA paid monthly, and a variety of good vegetables and fruits through the winter. Farm management has recently shifted from Farmer John and his lovely partner Lynn to their wonderful manager Erica Trappe, so we’re expecting even more good things. Note to low-income folks: they even accept foodstamps!
To branch out a little, I have chosen Telltale Farm this year, a small woman-run concern out River Road owned and managed by Tatiana Perczek. They offer some wonderful options, including wildcrafted mushrooms, a Deck Family Farms egg supplement (much appreciated now that my egg trade friend has divested from his chickens), and, best of all, a “small” option just perfect for one cook.
Another welcome winter CSA is the Lonesome Whistle Farm bean and grain share CSA. They don’t seem to have a link on their website, so here is some information and a link to their Facebook page. (Again, I implore local businesses to make announcements in a concise paragraph that’s easy to cut and paste for social media — you will get more free advertisements if you make it simple for others to help your PR):
As a “shareholder” in [Lonesome Whistle's] Grain and Bean CSA, you pay upfront and share in the harvest – getting a one-time distribution of 64 pounds of various heritage grains, polenta, popcorn, and heirloom beans. The crops have been planted, harvested, processed, and cleaned by December. Shareholders get to choose between a Farmer-Ground Share, or a Home-Millers Share. This year’s Farmer-Ground Shares will include:
Red Fife Wheat Flour: 8 pounds
Dark Northern Rye Flour : 8 pounds
Steven’s Soft White Wheat Flour: 8 pounds
Abenaki Corn Polenta: 12 pounds
Corn Flour: 4 pounds
Dakota Black Popcorn: 8 pounds
Emmer berries (AKA Farro): 8 pounds
Heirloom Beans: 8 pounds
Home-Millers Shares will be the same as above, except it will be all in the whole grain form for you to mill at home. [...]Shares will be ready for pick-up at our CSA Distribution Farm Party on Saturday, December 14th between noon -5pm at the farm. Grain & Bean Shares cost $292.00 each. More information: firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-234-4744.
Looking for other fall farm produce this winter? May I suggest apples, squash, and frozen berries for fall canning from Hentze Farm in Junction City? It’s a century farm open until Christmas, and like Lonesome Whistle, they’ve had a hard year. Gordon Hentze is a major supporter of Lane County Extension programming, donating bushels of produce to Master Food Preserver classes, which are essential in keeping costs low to serve our community. Join them for a hot air balloon ride, wagon rides, and live music at their Fall Festival on October 12 and 13!
On your way up River Road, be sure to check out the new Groundwork Organics farm stand across the street from Thistledown Farm. It’s a renovated dairy building that I understand will be open for a short while to test out the possibilities, then will reopen next year. Check out photos of a recent CSA open house in the building and information here.
And last but not least, help the grain farmers at Oregon-Innovators-award-winning Camas Country Mill, who give so much to our community by donating local beans to food banks and have played a dramatic role in reviving local grain production in Oregon, raise money to restore a one-room school house on their property. The school house will be used for community programming. Flexible funding campaign details for the School House Project here. It’s really moving — check it out! We dined on farm grains at a fundraiser a few weeks ago (cover photo). Delicious food courtesy of Party Downtown (above, sprouted lentil and basil cheese spread on wheat crackers and sun-dried tomato flax crackers (served with salami bruschetta); barley risotto carbonara). And that’s Farmer Tom Hunton being sweet to his mother, if you weren’t convinced already.
What else is out there for winter farm produce options? Please help out and share your favorites in the comments.