Our community supported agriculture (CSA) program supports the work of our farm as outlined here and provides our livelihood. By participating in our CSA program, you become a shareholder of our farm, pledging your economic support at the beginning of each season so that we may be sure that our operation costs are covered. In exchange for your economic support (the cost of your CSA share), you receive your share of our farm’s fruit and vegetable production (either a bin every week or every other week).
Our regular season CSA is typically 32 weeks long, from the middle of April until the Saturday before Thanksgiving. We also offer a winter share that begins the week after Thanksgiving. Your share will reflect the seasonal variety of fruits and vegetables that we are currently growing. The first weeks will include: spring greens (arugula, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, and beet greens), leafy greens such as chard and kale, radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, and sugar snap peas. Broccoli, cauliflower, green and red cabbage, Napa cabbage, kohlrabi, fennel, new potatoes, scallions, onions, leeks, celery, herbs, early summer squash, early green beans, and strawberries are usually ready in May. Summer crops include: summer squash, cucumbers, cantaloupes, watermelons, tomatoes (several types), tomatillos, eggplant, sweet and hot peppers, sweet corn, okra, potatoes, onions, green beans, lima beans, field peas, leeks, garlic, celery, herbs, carrots (early summer), beets (early summer), cabbages (early summer), lettuce (early summer), and any greens that are available. Fall fruits and veggies include: most of the summer veggies until early-October, winter squash and pumpkins, sweet potatoes,potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes, carrots, beets, spinach, collard greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, broccoli, green cabbage, Napa cabbage, radicchio, bok choy, arugula, lettuce, other salad greens, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, fennel, scallions, garlic, leeks, dry beans and heirloom, stone-ground glutenfree cornmeal. Our winter share varies year to year based on weather but typically includes: lettuce, escarole, radicchio, savoy cabbage, arugula, spinach, greens (kale, collards, chard, turnips, mustards), Romanesco, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, beets, turnips, rutabaga, storage radishes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, dry beans, peanuts, and cornmeal.
We grow a balance of heirloom and open-pollinated fruits and vegetables as well as non-GMO, organically approved hybrid varieties. (For an explanation on the difference between heirlooms, open-pollinated varieties, hybrids, and GMO crops, see our member handbook.) We prefer heirloom varieties for philosophical reasons as well as taste and beauty. We have also discovered that some of these varieties are better able to grow in our unpredictable East TN climate; some are also more resistant to insect pressure as well as lower fertility (an inherent part of growing on East TN soils).
We typically only choose a hybrid variety of a fruit or vegetable over an heirloom or open pollinated version when the hybrid out-produces the heirloom or the heirloom is too prone to insect damage or disease. Every season we plant more and more heirlooms and less and less hybrids. One of the reasons for this is that many of the hybrids are created for and trialed in California, whose climate, disease pressure, and insect population is incredibly different from ours, leading to crop varieties that are not particularly suited to our area.
There are a few fruits and vegetables for which I wish locally adapted hybrids were available: tomatoes, cantaloupes, and broccoli. We hope to use our blog this season to highlight many of the varieties that we grow. Some of our heirloom varieties date back many centuries and have very interesting histories. If you ever have a question about a variety, just ask.