I spoke to Dan Fraser a week or so ago about a new program that I heard he was participating in. He is working with Sweetland Farm to help get some of their products sold at the Dan and Whits store.
I told Dan I would stop by the farm to get a first hand look at the program and the farm itself. I called Norah Lake, the owner and arranged for a time to check it all out. I made two visits, the first was to talk with her and check out the operation and then I came back the next day to witness the weekly picking of crops ,and pick up of the crop boxes. The program according to Norah is a " CSA Light "
( I think it is a bright idea).
I also asked Norah to prepare a little write-up of the program, just so that I don't mix apples and oranges.
The photos below will help explain it better than I can.
Sweetland Farm CSA in the USA
This is her story:
I started Sweetland 7 years ago as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. CSA is a way of connecting customers directly to the farmers who are growing their food and establishing a strong commitment between the producer and the consumer.
A sample of some of the farm crops and herbs
Now these are what you call green house tomatoes
Onions set out to dry
And there is Hay for sale
Nora getting a load ready to deliver
Nick Benson, Nora lake, and Heather Surprenant covering the hay wagon just in case it rains
They even have their own Weather Station
The CSA customers (also known as "members" or "shareholders") prepay for a season-long portion of the farm's harvest. The upfront payment helps the farmer pay for seeds and supplies in the spring and the customers get a box of fresh produce weekly all season long. The CSA has grown every year, and currently grow vegetables for over 200 families. Our harvest season runs from mid-May through mid-October. We have 2 different box sizes; Half Pint is $410 for the season and Brimming Basket is $610 for the season. Many of our shareholders come to the farm each week to pick up their box, but we also deliver boxes to several places in Norwich and Hanover.
A Typical Crop Box
Nick getting a crop box ready for pickup
As the farm has grown we realized that CSA doesn't work for everyone, and we started to think about how we could provide vegetables to other people in the community. We were excited when we learned about a UVM study that was focusing on connecting local farms with general stores as a way to make eating locally more convenient for consumers. We applied to be part of the pilot study, and teamed up this spring with Dan & Whits.
The idea is sort of like "CSA light." Instead of signing up for a full season of Sweetland harvests, customers can choose which weeks they purchase a pre-packed box of produce and pick it up right at Dan & Whits on the weeks that they order a box. On Monday mornings I (Norah) email Dan and anyone who has requested to get the updates with the list of vegetables that will be in that week's Fresh Veggie Box.
Dan posts the list on a board in the entry way to the store, and anyone who would like a box that week emails me by Wednesday evening. On Thursday morning my farm crew and I harvest and pack the veggies and delivery them to the produce cooler at Dan & Whits by 2pm. They can be picked up any time between Thursday at 2pm and Friday at 6pm. Customers can pay at the counter along with any other purchases they are making. The boxes are $24 each, though we have a "back to school" special: if you buy 5 boxes between now and October 11th you will get a 6th box free.
Tomatoes ready to go
A wide assortment of farm products
We are here to pick
Pick your own herbs
And here they come to collect their goodies
This is an exciting new program for us, because it will hopefully connect us with more customers who want to eat fresh, local, sustainably grown produce but who aren't able to participate in our CSA. Dan & Whit's is such a central part of our community, and it has been great to work with them on getting more local produce into their store. We hope this is a fun way for more people to see what it's like to get a weekly box of farm-fresh goodies from a CSA...and once they've had a taste who knows...maybe next year they won't be able to resist signing up for a whole season of Sweetland produce!
There website is :
You can contact Nora with any questions at:
Sweetland Farm <email@example.com>