“Community Supported Agriculture” (CSA) is a fancy term for having an ongoing relationship with your local farmer. When you buy into a CSA, you’re providing predictable funding to your farmer while receiving a weekly box of locally grown produce for your family. In some cases, you pick up the box on the farm, but increasingly farms will deliver to your porch.
“Our motto is ‘better food, better lives,’ says 23-year-old farmer James Klett of Fairgrown Farm. “We truly believe in the importance of healthy, local food.” Fairgrown is growing rapidly by delivering produce to customers’ homes within a 10-mile radius of Hopewell in Mercer County. They deliver their own crops, but also the produce of a network of Central Jersey farms.
Sustainability is a key priority for Fairgrown, and an inspiration for the farm’s name. “Farming has an incredible impact on the environment, and it’s a priority to us that the way we farm strengthens the land, instead of damaging it,” says Klett. “We build our soil, diversify our ecosystem, and never use potentially harmful chemicals.”
Fairgrown Farm will deliver its first boxes on May 2, 2022 and is taking delivery orders now. Through a special arrangement, you can Discover Central New Jersey’s “CentralNJ” promocode for a $20 savings on your order. Don’t live within ten miles of Hopewell? You can find Fairgrown at the weekend Farmers’ Markets in Hopewell or Montgomery.
Other Central Jersey farms have their own unique takes on CSAs. Synders in Franklin and Norz-Hill in Hillsborough allow you to pay as you go and choose what you want. Even without a “CSA”, Terhune Orchards in Lawrence will deliver online orders to local addresses, an option they started during the pandemic.
Von Thun Farm in Middlesex County is an example of a CSA where you visit the farm or a convenient pick-up location each week to get your box of “picked today” produce. The Von Thun family has been farming the same land for a century. Get more details and sign-up on their website.
CSA customers “receive weekly recipes and guidance on how to prepare, use, and enjoy those crops found in your share,” according to Von Thun. “We love hearing how kids who never liked vegetable have started eating them once they tried fresh, local ones!”
Even if you decide a CSA is not right for your family, why not make 2022 the year that you get to know the farmers in your local area. One of the great advantages of living in the Garden State is access to farms and farmland.
When you buy directly from a local farm, your farmer’s gets every penny you spend rather than 10 cents on the dollar when you shop in a supermarket. Without long-distance shipping, the environmental impact is lower, too. Most importantly to your family, you’ll enjoy healthier, fresher, and tastier food.
The website Nourish Life puts it this way: “When you give your money to a local farmer, that money goes to the local economy. It goes directly into the farmer. He pays the farm workers, they go into the local stores, and they send their children to the local schools. All the money stays local. That helps us sustain our livelihoods and give everybody the freshest food possible.”
Those are good reasons to join a local CSA in 2022.