From Field to Table … CSAs and Farmers’ Markets

by Jody Miller on February 28, 2013

Now that it’s March, Spring can’t be THAT far behind!

This edition of NewsNite is our chance for wishful thinking as we spotlight a growing (pun intended) phenomenon regionally and around the country. I’m talking about a phenomenon that, simply put, links field to table by directly connecting local farmers with consumers, either through CSAs – community supported agriculture – or through local farmers markets.

My guests on this week’s program have been in the forefront of these efforts regionally: Christopher Norman, the executive director of Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath, the longest continually operating CSA in NE Ohio; and Beth Knorr, formerly a farmer with Crown Point and now the market manager for Countryside Conservancy in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

We talk about how the focus to buy local foods and support local small farms and farmers came about and why the burgeoning national emphasis on nutrition and eating healthy has played a role in aspects of buying locally. Among so many things, Chris and Beth explain the concepts behind CSAs; what shareholders in CSAs can expect; how planning what to plant and when to plant impacts shares; and some of the operational methods behind successful CSAs in general and Crown Point in particular.

We also talk about the growth of farmer’s markets and some of the best practices practiced by them. We do touch on the “organics” aspect of local growing, along with the unique and diverse products to be found – year-round – at the farmers markets through the Countryside Conservancy, including the where and whens, and just how the Conservancy helps the small business farmer at the farmer’s markets. Chris and Beth, great role models for environmental stewardship, talk about other aspects of this movement, including sustainable practices and the role of volunteers in each of their respective organizations. We cover donations of foods grown and the benefits of cooking and eating seasonally (I personally love the “Don’t Buy Food from Strangers” slogan of the Countryside Conservancy). We also get an opportunity to talk about some special programs and events planned in the future, from the Countryside Conservancy’s Food Swaps and Local Food Akron Monthly Mixers to Crown Point’s April fundraiser “Musical Lessons from Earth’s First Musicians,” presented by Lisa Rainsong.

Tons of information can be found at the Crown Point and the Countryside Conservancy websites. I especially loved perusing the Northeast Ohio Harvest Guide. May you enjoy this week’s program … and may spring be close at hand!

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