Friday, 20 May 2011 12:33
Inspired by this month’s 2011 Eat Local Challenge, we highlight a local farm that provides a community supported agriculture program that lets members order organic produce online and have it delivered to their door every week.
By Greg Allard
The doorbell rings Thursday at 4pm and Sandra Goldman is smiling. She knows the organic vegetables she ordered from Springsong Organics of Alachua the day before have arrived and now she can start dinner. “I enjoy buying fresh, healthy, organic vegetables and having it brought to my door personally by a local farmer,” Sandra, 61, says. “It reminds me of when I was a little girl and me and my sisters used to get so excited when the milk man came and sent milk down our chute.” The two-year-old program serves both Alachua and Gainesville and is the brainchild of owner Jeff Baptist, who started in the organic farming business in 1989. Jeff, 52, has a burgeoning business that supplies organic produce to Mother Earth, Wards Supermarket and Rainbow Produce in Gainesville. Baptist also supplies New Leaf Market in Tallahassee and is a regular fixture at the St. Augustine farmers market.
A NICE IDEA
“I decided to start this CSA program because many of my local customers thought it was a nice idea,” Jeff says. “Every Wednesday there is a new listing of what produce is available on our website; the customer picks what they want and then hits the submit button; then we pick the veggies fresh and bring them to their doorstep the next day." Sandra, an English teacher at the Alachua Learning Center, especially appreciates the freshness such a local farm can offer. “If you go to a supermarket, you often get veggies that are picked green and sit around for weeks before they ripen,” Sandra says. “Often they are gassed with chemicals, waxed, and just don’t taste as good as something picked the same day you receive them.” “We’ve been eating a lot of pasta lately and putting the fresh basil in everything,” she says. “It’s fantastic.”
Union Street Farmers M
Bo Diddley Community Plaza (University Avenue and SE 1st Street)
Alachua County Farmers Market
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
conjunction of NW 34th Street and HWY 441
Haile Plantation Farmers Market
Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - noon
Haile Center Village off SE 98th Street
Tioga Town Center
Monday, 4-7 p.m.
Newberry Road five miles west of I-75
Thornebrook Farmers Market
Friday, 4-7 p.m. (starts May 20)
Thornebrook Village, intersection of NW 16th Avenue and 43rd Street
“It’s the first program of its kind that allows you to pick which vegetables you want,” Jeff says. “All the other programs I know of just give you whatever they want to give you.” Rosie’s Organic Farm, located in Gainesville, also participates in CSA, but they do not deliver. One can pick up produce from them at the Haile Plantation and Union Street farmers markets on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively. The available vegetables vary from month to month, according to the harvest season. This time of year, Springtime Organics is offering a wide variety. Just look at the list: spring mix, zucchini, yellow squash, arugula, pea sprouts, collards, dino kale, green kale, bok choy, dandelion, broccoli, green cabbage, cilantro, parsley, carrots with top, green chard, red chard, mustard greens, turnips and rutabagas. Availability for each month is listed on the website, with May having the most vegetables available. Baptist’s daughter, Prema, 19, has been working with her father for several years and has some realizations of her own concerning the business. “You are what you eat, and what you eat should be chemical-free,” she says. “Eating local organic produce is good for your health, the local economy and the environment.” Thus far, Jeff’s delivery route has 35 regular customers and plans to expand. “I feel we have a great program here and look forward to serving more customers in the future.”
There are multiple avenues for finding fresh, local produce throughout Gainesville, and a handful of CSA programs through local farms. Confused on just what this means? According to the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension office, “Community Supported Agriculture” (CSA) is when a group of people pledges support to a farm so both the farmers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. It usually requires a commitment and payment in advance, and in return, you are treated to seasonal produce. For example, on the website www.springsongorganicfarm.com, there are several options for enrolling in the CSA for $11 each week and a half-year (or 26-week) commitment. The University of Florida also kick-started its first CSA program this year, and will repeat it again in the fall. You can pick which farm to support, depending on your price range, schedule and vegetable preferences, and pick up the vegetables at a set time and place each week. See sustainable.ufl.edu/gatorcsa for details. For more information about eating “farm fresh” in Gainesville, head to www.gainesvillefarmfresh.com, where you can also find more on the Eat Local Challenge.