Farmers across Long Island are defrosting for the 2019 season and finalizing plans for their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. Those who sign up to get a weekly share of whatever's being harvested on the farm can expect more than produce — farms are continuing to offer more unusual add-ons and on-farm experiences for their members.
Find out more at the return of the Long Island CSA Fair, where attendees can meet over 16 farmers offering their take on CSA April 13 at the Sisters of St. Joseph Farm in Brentwood. There are plenty of nuances, with some farms offering half or market-style share options for those who need less of the harvest. Some require a degree of volunteering — say, getting your hands dirty in the fields or coordinating pickups. Many farms request upfront payment at the beginning of the season, when farmers need it most.
”It’s good to have all your options under one roof to price and program compare,” says organizer Bhavani Jaroff.
ELIJA Farm in South Huntington flips the CSA system, supporting the community by employing and providing jobs for young adults with autism. The students play an integral role in the daily productivity of the farm. “The idea is to give meaning to their lives and get them to learn a trade,” says program manager Joy Dinkelman. What's more, the same crew makes the farm’s featured add-ons: a selection of baked goods made on-site, including a heathly/gluten free option ($160-$320).
In addition to traditional CSA options, those looking for both fresh veggies and learning from the land can consider the "wellness share." At $1,500 for the season, it includes weekly learning opportunities including how to grow a garden, yoga, culinary demonstrations and ecology walks.
Jamesport’s Herricks Lane Farm offers a different kind of CSA with weekly medicinal herb harvests. Skin issues? Owner Nicole Orens-Williams recommends calendula. Inflammation, pain or bruising? Arnica blossom extract is the go-to. “It’s a unique concept in CSA,” she said, explaining the growing home-remedy trend. Full shareholders receive 10 bunches of fresh herbs throughout the growing season June through October; $100. Half shareholders haul five bunches; $50 and basic herb shareholders can take two bunches for $25. Composting workshops and other events are also offered from $40-$80.
The largest attending farm, Golden Earthworm in Jamesport, serves over 2,000 members — its add-ons include fruit, meat, and dairy. With over 50 Long Island pickup locations, it’s the cooking and farming demos that bring members on-site for a deeper connection. “The classes really encourage being a part of a CSA. Sure, it’s about getting fresh, local food but it’s more than that. Members want to connect to the farm through their food,” says owner Maggie Wood.
Brookhaven Hamlet’s H.O.G. Farm also provides traditional CSA options while also hosting sit-down dinners made from farm harvests. Events range in price from $35-$100. Growers say it's part of truly understanding where food comes from.
“More and more people are looking for that on-farm experience with the family,” Jaroff says. “People are waking up to the lack of transparency in our food and want to change that.”
Additional attending farms include but are not limited to the Restoration Farm, Garden of Eve, Sang Lee Farms and the Green Thumb.
Long Island CSA Fair
WHEN | WHERE 11 a.m.-3 p.m. April 13 at the Sisters of St. Joseph Farm in Brentwood. Refreshments will be served.