PURE: Know Thy CSA   


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The Market at Pepper Place’s farmers offer CSA delivery year-round.

Written by Jan Walsh//  Photography by Beau Gustafson

I spend most Saturday mornings at The Market at Pepper Place. I know whose products are non-GMO and chemical free, even if they are not certified organic, which I much prefer. And among them, I also know who has the best heirloom tomatoes, blueberries, watermelons, lettuces, etc. Having talked with these farmers for 17 years, I have gotten to know some of them well. When I ask how it’s going, they answer me truthfully. They share their struggles of a shed that just burned or how they struggle to make it in the winter time. And from these conversations I have learned how important Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is to our Alabama farmers.

CSA is a relationship between a farm and its customers. Customers become members of the farm’s CSA by paying an annual or seasonal fee for the farm to deliver a share of their harvest. This reliable income helps small and moderate organic and non-GMO family farms cover their production costs and invest in equipment, fencing, new animals, seed, feed, additional land, and more.

Harvest Farm is located in Cullman and has been owned by the Boyd family since 1909. Trent and Jennifer Boyd, along with their children, operate this family farm. It uses natural growing methods and is known for its strawberries and pumpkins—including an award-winning pumpkin that weighed in at 903 pounds. Harvest Farm offers CSA May through August, with offerings that include heirloom vegetables, fruits, farm eggs and pasture-raised chicken and pork.

Marble Creek Farmstead is located in Sylacauga. Owners Jesie and Matthew Lawrence named the farm after Sylacauga, the Marble City. It is a dynamic, sustainable, family farm producing humanely raised, all-natural pastured meats, eggs, and produce grown without pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or chemical fertilizers. Their CSA offers your choice of a box size of various pasture-raised pork, beef, and chicken monthly. Marble Creek Farmstead’s CSA is their main source of income, and members get priority on cuts and the best access to their products. They also offer Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas geese. Sign up at MarbleCreekFarmstead.com.

Owls Hollow’s Rod Palmer grew up on a small farm located north of Gadsden. The started Owls Hollow when Rod’s oldest son, Caleb, wanted to learn how to farm, and now it’s grown to 18,000 square feet of greenhouses and field-grown crops that are uncertified organic. With this controlled environment, they can grow spring and summer vegetables in the colder months and fall and winter vegetables in the warmer months. They also grow summer and winter vegetables outside the green houses in fields. Their CSA delivers Owls Hollow Farm’s fresh produce of five or more different varieties of vegetables and an herb. Sign up at OwlsHollowFarm.com.

Rora Valley Farms is located in rural Coosa County and is operated by Noah and Dorothy Sanders. They are assisted by their young sons Enoch, Patrick, and Edwin, and other members of the Sanders family who also live on the family land. It began in 2009 with a desire to serve others by producing healthy foods organically. Tender lettuces, juicy heirloom tomatoes, succulent summer squashes, freshly picked okra, baby cucumbers, and farm eggs, grass-fed meat chickens are among their products. They also offer sprouted breads. And their chocolate chip cookies live up to their claim as the “world’s best.” CSA offerings include pasture broiler chicken share and pasture egg share. Sign up at RoraValleyFarms.com.

Snows Bend is a certified organic farm located in Tuscaloosa, owned and operated by David and Margaret Ann Snow. They started a quarter acre in 2004. By 2010, Snow’s Bend had added livestock and expanded plant production to 10 acres, producing about 50 different vegetables, encompassing nearly 250 varieties as well as organic flowers. Their heirloom tomatoes, carrots, and other organic produce are served in Birmingham’s finest restaurants. Sign up at SnowsBendFarm.com.

Stone Hollow Farmstead is family owned and operated organic and non-GMO farm in Shelby County. Deborah Stone founded the farmstead in 1999 with her husband, Russell, and daughters Fallon and Alexandra. Hundreds of goats and chickens, and a few jersey cows pasture as nature intended. Stone Hollow Farmstead produces an array of goat cheeses, honey, specialty foods, botanicals, cosmetic extracts, and cosmeceuticals. Stone Hollow CSA includes a variety of items, such as fresh produce and herbs, cannery products, fresh bread, and occasional dairy products. Optional shares of cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, and hen eggs, chicken salad, and fresh flowers are also available. Sign up at StoneHollowFarmstead.com.

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