There are so many interesting things happening in the food revolution and many of them are right here in St. Johns Florida. Learn about CSA’s, local farms and providers in our community.CSA Community Supported Agriculture
Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit?
Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
Local Fare Farm Bag
Owners of Local Fare Farm Bag, Cora & Chris Curry are passionate about food. Chris was an Executive Chef in Savannah, Georgia and his restaurant had its own organic garden so when he moved here he was disappointed at the lack of whole foods available and wanted to do something about it. They landed on the idea of delivering bags of local produce, meats, eggs, breads and honey to homes. It is similar to a CSA but the Curry’s do no not own a farm. They simply gather the food for the bags and then deliver it to your doorstep. It is an excellent way for families to get local food without the time-consuming aspect of going to the farm to pick up your share.
They are particular about which farms and other providers, using only the best available. For instance, they invited me to tag along for a visit to St. Johns Family Farm where they get fresh eggs (see pictures of the farm on this page). They recently introduced meat to the Farm Bag as well. Chris and Cora dream of one day opening a grocery that provides only local foods.
The Curry’s describe thier business: Seasonal, locally sourced produce delivered straight to your home or office weekly. Includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs and a hand crafted loaf of bread. We also send a weekly newsletter with your subscription that tells you what is going on in the world of agriculture and gives you recipes using the ingredients that are included in your delivery. Our delivery areas include Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra, Orange Park, Middleburg, Fleming Island, St Johns, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Oakleaf & more!
A Family Tries a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture
The presence of chemicals and preservatives in our processed foods has caused many people, especially families with young children, to look for organic alternatives. It also forces people to be more responsible about food on every level and be part of the larger green revolution that will benefit future generations of Americans.
Most people involved with CSA’s say their shares are amazing, carrying them through a natural growing season (2 in Florida) with items both familiar and new. Butter lettuce that melts in your mouth, crispy cucumbers, juicy heirloom tomatoes, onions, garlic, sweet corn, eggplant, Swiss chard, arugula, and a variety of squash. You may also be introduced to more exotic vegetables like Bok Choi.
In some cases you can pick up your share directly at the farm. Going to the farm is the perfect opportunity for children to ask questions and learn about the growing process. They should understand that the food they eat does not magically appear at the grocery store, packaged and ready for consumption. Our family learned that green beans come from a plant with curly vines and the best tasting carrots and tomatoes sometimes look ugly and mis-shapen. Eating local also means the people who planted the seeds and nurtured them into the plants we picked were our neighbors. Most CSA’s offer a few recipes and describe the week’s harvest so you can make the best of your share.
If you would like to find a CSA in your area, Local Harvest, an organization based in Santa Cruz, California, provides a search engine of CSA’s nationwide by city or zip code. Go to localharvest.org/csa for more information.
Nearby Farms & Providers
Old school farming is making a comeback here in North East St Johns County. Just ask Dawn Hutchins a local food blogger with Florida Coast cooking. “As a food blogger in the local area I have had the pleasure of working with Vivian and Francisco the owners of KYV Farm. They grow everything from broccoli and potatoes to arugula and rutabaga - good ole turnip. They don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers, using crop rotation, companion cropping, green manure which uses the uprooted dying plants in soil to increase nutrient levels. KYV farms also manages the Berry stack Hydroponic u-pick Farm seen from I-95. Vistors can pick berries and access the whole farm. KYV is a community supported Farm.
Saint Johns Family Farm (Across from Cunningham Creek Elementary) www.saintjohnsfamilyfarm.com
One rainy day I visited this live working farm where chickens, goats and ducks live in a clean, comfortable environment. The farm, which sits way back in the wild area just off Roberts Road, is owned by Manny and Yvonne Granados whose approach is to use humane, traditional and sustainable methods. The chickens here have freedom to roam around the aviary and chemicals are not used to clean the outer layer off the eggs, so the nutrition remains high. Lucky for residents of northern St. Johns the farm has a roadside stand we can visit in the afternoon. If you do not have time to visit you can get these fresh eggs in your local Fare Farm Bag!!
Manny & Yvonne’s philosophy: Utilizing only humane and sustainable methods. We don’t think that bigger and standardized is better. Small, local food production with complete transparency for the customer is the solution to questions of food safety and environmental protection.
Black Hog Farm in Palatka.
Black Hog Farm owner Sharon Watkins firstname.lastname@example.org is a new kid on the block. They are growing in popularity as they do doorstep delivery. Black Hog provides fresh meat products delicious and no nonsense ingredients. The Fresh Farm movement is making headway as more locally grwon food is transcending to consumers making its way to your kitchen table and local restaurants.
Down to Earth Farm in Jacksonville
Twinn Bridges Farm (Beaches Farmers Market)
Other Area Organizations
Girls Gone Green www.thegirlsgonegreen.com
Slow Foods www.slowfoodfirstcoast.org
Beaches Local Food Network www.beacheslocalfoodnetwork.org
St. Johns Magazine blog features articles written by & about the people, places and events of St. Johns and the surrounding communities.