The Best I've Seen (And I've Seen a Lot)
By: Meagan McGoldrick (Dec 16, 2009)
My husband and I were both worker shares on Sunny Sky Farm for 2 years. When we first picked up a flyer for SSF we had never even heard of a CSA before, but were instantly intrigued. After 2 wonderful seasons at Sunny Sky we left Wisconsin to apprentice full time on a CSA near Asheville, NC. During our apprenticeship we were able to experience the entire gauntlet of successes and shortcomings that are inherent to farming. We also toured 8 other small farms in the area and formed relationships with additional farmers who sold at market. The majority of farmers we were exposed to relied on a CSA for at least part of their income. While we were always grateful for for all the knowledge and insight we were gaining from the apprenticeship and these other farms, as the season went on it became more and more apparent what a truly remarkable job Mark Anderson was doing at Sunny Sky. Here is just a smattering of what makes his operation so exceptional:
- The astonishing assortment of produce. The first season was so exciting to me, having never had a number of the vegetables before. But what is even greater is that Mark grows countless different varieties of tomatoes, potatoes, etc. so CSA members are given an experience they could never get from a supermarket.
-The amount of food CSA members are given each week. My husband and I both cook often and were vegetarians, and our share allowed us to eat fresh, healthy meals all week long and still have extra to put up for winter. By the time the season ended our freezer was full of frozen peppers, broccoli, tomato sauce and salsa and our cupboards were packed with storage crops. I didn't have to buy produce until at least February and I don't even can.
-The price/value. Sunny Sky is definitely on the lower end of the CSA price scale, while simultaneously providing its members with an abundant amount of produce. Members can't go to the grocery store and buy that much organic produce for what their share would cost a week, and what is in the box is picked at the peak of ripeness so the quality is vastly superior to anything in the store.
- The absolute sense of community, which is, after all, what the C stands for in CSA. If a member simply wants to pay for a season and pick up their share each week, they can do that. But if they really want to know who grows their food, spend time on the farm, lend a hand in big group projects, interact with other members and families at a potluck, go out and pick their own flowers, and have an absolute blast at the farm harvest party, Sunny Sky will welcome them with open arms.
So many CSA members reap these benefits and much more, thanks to one experienced, hard-working, dedicated farmer who knows exactly what he is doing.
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