Valley’s CSA farms growing in popularity - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Valley’s CSA farms growing in popularity

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Posted: Sunday, October 25, 2009 3:15 pm | Updated: 2:44 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

 Farmers markets aren’t the only way to purchase produce pulled fresh from Valley-area soil. CSA’s — farms that practice community-supported agriculture — are another option.

Gilbert hobby farm a labor of love for family

Valley farmers markets are flourishing

Slideshow: farmers markets

Farmers markets aren’t the only way to purchase produce pulled fresh from Valley-area soil. CSA’s — farms that practice community-supported agriculture — are another option.

“You wouldn’t believe how many people have never heard of a CSA,” says Michael Thompson, owner of Love Grows Farms, a Mesa farm that stays afloat, in part, on the pledges of members. Those members are everyday people who pay an upfront fee in exchange for a weekly basket full of fresh produce that changes with the seasons.

“For people who want fresh, organic food, boom, here’s everything you need, grown right here locally, and you pick it up every week at the same location,” says Thompson, 40.

Gilbert hobby farm a labor of love for family

Valley farmers markets are flourishing

Slideshow: farmers markets

 

The money, which works out to about $25 per week in most cases, provides farmers with working capital.

“But you have to be prepared for the risks, too, because you’re in it with the farmer. Last season we got brutally beat by the heat and lost a lot of our shares,” he says.

To guard against bad weather, bugs and other catastrophes, farmers will often overplant or work with other nearby farms to ensure that there’s enough food to go around.

Thompson says having a stake in the farm helps build community. He posts weekly “farmcast” videos on Love Grows’ Web site and hosts farm dinners to help members feel connected to the place where their vegetables are grown.

“This is our way of being able to stay alive, as far as the farm goes. We’re kind of hard-core about what we do and what it stands for; we’re proud of it.”

Interested? Contact these East Valley CSA’s for more information:

• B.Y.O.G. Back Yard Organic Garden, www.byogbackyardorganicgarden.blogspot.com

All 25 shares are spoken for at this new CSA, whose veggies are grown on a half-acre in a backyard in Gilbert, but you can follow its progress (and try to land a spot for next season) at the B.Y.O.G. blog.

• Desert Roots Farm, (602) 751-0655 or www.desertrootsfarm.com

This 33-acre Queen Creek farm offers pesticide- and synthetic fertilizer-free produce, plus a meat, egg and dairy co-op and turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. You can buy whole or half shares, depending on your estimated consumption and budget.

• Love Grows Farms, (480) 297-9829 or www.lovegrowsfarms.com

This Lehi-area farm also grows veggies for Valley restaurants, including the highly rated Pizzeria Bianco and Atlas Bistro, and it includes at least a half-dozen eggs in each basket of produce.

• PolyHarvest CSA, (480) 727-1821 or www.polycsa.org

A partnership between Crooked Sky Farms and the Arizona State University Nutrition Department means you can pick up the Phoenix farm’s just-picked produce at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus in southeast Mesa.

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