LocalHarvest Newsletter, April 28, 2009

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

We are often asked to estimate the total number of CSAs nationwide, and until now we have always said that no one knows, because the federal government does not track this number. Usually, we've gone on to guess that our database includes perhaps 70-80% of the country’s CSAs. We are proud of the CSA portion of the LocalHarvest database. As of today, it includes 2,727 CSAs.

Recently the feds took a crack at a national number, through a question on the Agricultural Census. And we were astounded by the results. It turns out that 12,549 farmers told the government that they marketed their products through a CSA in 2007.

Yes, 12,549.

There are many staggering numbers in today’s world, but most of them are too big for me to absorb in any real way. ($700 billion?) This number, though, is conceivable. It is a great number, actually. But its appearance prompted me to seek out a flat surface on which to lie down so that I could stare at the ceiling for some minutes. Could there really be another 9,829 established CSAs in the U.S.?

Emily Gilmore from the Robyn Van En Center pointed out that there was some ambiguity in the question. She makes a good point. The exact wording of question 32.1.j read, “At any time during 2007, did this operation market products through a community supported agriculture (CSA) arrangement?” Stated thusly, a farmer who sold, say, eggs through another farm’s produce CSA would have accurately marked ‘yes’. So what the census is counting, then, is the number of farmers involved in CSAs, rather than the number of CSAs.

12,549. It still seems high. High, schmigh. I want to find these farms. No matter how many CSAs there actually are, we want all of them to be part of LocalHarvest. If we had the resources for a huge marketing campaign, we’d do it. But we don’t. We have you.

Good enough, I say.

Not since 2000 have we directly invited farms to join LH. (The rest all found out about us by word of mouth.) It’s about time we sent out invitations again, but first we need a list. This is where the contest comes in.

We are offering a $100 prize to the person who sends us the most new CSAs between now and the end of September. Take a look at our list of CSAs. Know of any that are missing? If so, here is a little form, where you can tell us how to get in touch with them. Or, you can always go directly to the farmers yourself, and tell them about LocalHarvest. Be sure to mention that creating a farm listing on LH is free. In a few months, we’ll let you know how the project is coming. Meanwhile, please help us find the rest of the country’s CSAs!

As always, take good care and eat well,

Erin Barnett

p.s. If you have a comment on the Ag Census’s CSA number, post it in the comments section of our blog.

From the LocalHarvest Store:

Winter’s over, but you’ve still got a taste for citrus? Our blood oranges are selling like crazy. Sweet, juicy, with a color that delights time after time.

Painted Mountain Corn. Aji Dulce Peppers. Emerald Green Velvet Okra. Haley’s Purple Comet Tomato. Even the names are beautiful. We have about 600 kinds of vegetable seeds in our catalog. Now’s the time! And don’t miss our live plant department! We have some unusual offerings there as well. Not planting a garden this year? Join a CSA!

Planning a summer wedding? Many people are choosing fragrant dried lavender as a wedding toss. We have some available here!

Toys for the 21st Century

LocalHarvest is pleased to announce that our farmers market data is now available on the iPhone through "Locavore." We were delighted when we were approached by developer Buster McLeod and wish him great success with this app. It’s off to a great start. In its first 30 days on the market about 5,700 people bought a copy, and we're now seeing hundreds of people every day searching for local markets while on the road on their iPhones. With farmers market season coming up, taking our data on the road with you may be the best $3 you spend all year – aside from that first bag of sweet corn!

Another fun thing that those who enjoy technology will appreciate is that LocalHarvest has now joined the Twitter generation. For daily tweets about what’s happening on the site – updates with counts of new listings, links to selected blog entries, etc. – you can now follow us and our founder, Guillermo Payet at @localharvestorg.

How to Visit a Farm, How to Choose a CSA

You may be interested to know we have two new pages on the LocalHarvest site: How to Visit a Farm, and How to Choose a CSA. Did we miss anything? If so, let us know. Coming soon, How to Shop at a Farmers Market.

Cooking with Oils

When it comes to cooking with oils, not all your options are created equal! Some can withstand high heats, while heat turns others from a “good for you oil” to an oil full of dangerous free radicals. Naturally, we need our good fats—not only do they taste good, but we rely on them for many important bodily processes. Fats are involved in the structural components of cell membranes, surround our nerve fibers, and are used for a variety of metabolic functions.
(Read on...)

Food from the Farm: Asparagus Risotto

This month’s farm recipe comes to us from Anne-Marie Parrish, of Randy’s Produce Farm in Louisa, VA. Anne-Marie published a cookbook featuring her family’s recipes, called “From the Farm”. We thought her asparagus risotto was excellent. The Brie cheese makes it! This one can get a little salty if your chicken stock contains salt, so taste it before adding any additional.
(Recipes and More...)