LocalHarvest Newsletter, April 20, 2010

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

A couple of months ago, I spent an hour with Andy Grant, the farmer from one of the biggest community supported agriculture programs in the country. Last year, Grant Family Farms in Wellington, Colorado had over 3,000 CSA members. I have to admit that I went into our conversation thinking that there was no way a CSA could operate on that scale and be true to the core values of community supported agriculture. I have to say, I was happily surprised. In this month's main article, we take a look at what big CSAs can and can't offer, and how they can keep the 'community' aspect of CSA strong.

Also in this issue we include an appeal for all readers to please pick up the phone and call your Senators on behalf of the much anticipated food safety bill. It is heading for a vote quite soon and needs broad public support to ensure that the final version treats small scale farmers fairly. Take five minutes to support your local farmers through wise public policy!

Enjoy the Spring and as always, take good care and eat well,

Erin Barnett

Grant Family Farms: 3,000 Members and Growing

Andy Grant likes to tell the story of how in the mid-1970s he tried to pre-sell produce - a la the CSA concept. The concept was foreign, people weren't ready, and Andy moved on to wholesale venues for his produce. For the next 30 years, his farm, located outside of Fort Collins in north-central Colorado, produced summer and winter squash, onions, greens, cabbage, beets, and herbs for the national wholesale market. Eventually the farm grew to 2,000 acres, all of them certified organic.
Read more.

From the LocalHarvest Store:

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!

Activism Opportunity: The 'Food Safety Modernization Act' Needs You

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a sweeping overhaul of the food safety laws very soon! S. 510 is a "one-size-fits-all" approach that will unnecessarily burden both farmers and small-scale food processors, ultimately depriving consumers of the choice to buy from producers they know and trust. Please contact your Senators to urge them to support Senator Tester's amendments, or oppose the bill entirely. Senator Tester's amendments would exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill.

To call both of your Senators. You can find their contact information at www.Senate.gov, or call the Capitol Switchboard toll-free at 877-210-5351. Ask to speak with the staffer who handles food safety issues. To send an email, click here.

For more information, we recommend the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance website.

TV Worth Watching: Food, Inc.

The Oscar-nominated documentary, Food, Inc., will be broadcast on PBS on Wednesday, April 21. (Check your local schedule here.) Food, Inc. takes an honest look at the power and perversity of the corporate food system, and the impacts agribusiness makes on our health. Food, Inc. is a hard-hitting movie, but ultimately offers a hopeful message about where we can go from here. Check out the trailer and/or post your comments.

Slow Money's Second National Gathering: ISM* (*Inspired by Slow Money)

Our friends at Slow Money asked us to let y'all know about their second national gathering, to be held on June 9-11 at Shelburne Farms in Vermont. Here's how they describe it: "It's not an ISM (as in capitalism, socialism, consumerism, market fundamentalism). But it is a new way of connecting investors to local food systems. A new way of connecting money, culture and the soil. A new kind of social investing and philanthropy for the 21st century. Join this emerging network of thought leaders, investors, donors, entrepreneurs, farmers, and activists from across the country. Collaborate with folks from Austin, Madison, Northern and Southern California, Pioneer Valley, Boulder, Santa Fe, Appalachia, the Pacific Northwest and other places where Slow Money is starting to sprout. Learn about Vermont's regional food system. Hear investment presentations from two dozen small food enterprises. Let's fix America's economy from the ground up...starting with food."

Click here for details and to register. To receive a 20% off your registration, enter discount code "localharvest" to register for the gathering and "localharvest+dinner" if you would like to register for the Friday night farm table dinner celebration as well.

Food from the Farm: Beet and Radish Salad

We asked Josh Palmer of Grant Family Farms to share one of the farm's favorite spring recipes with us, and this is what he sent. We found the sweetness of the roasted beets and the snap of the radishes to complement each other beautifully. This is a simple, delicious, healthy salad that would go well with many main dishes. Enjoy!
(Recipes and More...)