By Greg Klein
---- — The Cooperstown Farmers’ Market is selling raffle tickets to win a 25-week Community Supported Agriculture subscription.
The CSA is for Heller’s Farms, which offers fruit, vegetables and preserves. Heller’s Farms is owned by Debbie and Seth Heller of Bainbridge and is a fixture at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market.
“It is our first year promoting CSAs at the market, and it is pretty exciting, I think,” said Lyn Weir, Cooperstown Farmers’ Market and Agriculture Program manager. “As a CSA member myself, I know I eat healthier now. I tried to eat healthy before, but now I eat even better. I always have fresh vegetables available when I open up my refrigerator.”
The sale of the raffle tickets started last weekend and will continue at the farmers’ market on Saturday and on April 13. The drawing will be held at 1:30 p.m. on the 13th. Tickets cost $5 each.
In addition to Heller’s Farm, two other local farms will offer CSAs this year through the market. Gaia’s Breath Farm of Jordanville offers a certified organic CSA, and the Middlefield Orchard offers a fruit CSA.
All three local CSAs will have weekly Tuesday pickup at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market. Weir said that she hopes the mid-week pickup will encourage more people to buy local and eat fruits and vegetables.
“The Saturday markets are very busy during the summer,” she said. “This way people that are in town all week can pick up their boxes without having to fight the traffic or come back into town on a Saturday.”
Heller’s 25-week CSA is from June 25 to Nov. 19 and costs $700, payable in two installments.
Gaia’s 25-week CSA is from June 8 to Nov. 23 and is $675, payable in two installments. Their products are certified organic by Demeter USA, a not-for-profit farm organization that is dedicated to improving conditions in the farming and food industry by promoting biodynamic agriculture.
Middlefield’s 18-week CSA is from July 13 to Nov. 9 and costs $350. The orchard’s CSA will be entering its second year, and has received positive reviews for its first offering.
“I think the idea of having a fruit-only CSA is really fabulous,” Weir said.
CSAs have become popular as part of the buy-local movement. For farmers, it allows them to sell products during the early part of the year, before their time is consumed with planting and harvesting seasons. It gives them cash flow before they need to make early-season purchases. Similar to the experience at the farmers’ markets, it also allows them to interact with their customers.
For consumers, a CSA provides fresh foods, which are higher in vitamins and often more flavorful. It adds variation to diets, including unusual or less known products. Many CSA subscriptions also include a visit to the farm as part of the package.
In addition, kids are often more willing to eat fruits and vegetables that come from a local farm or one that they identify as their own.
“Kids get pretty excited about it,” Weir said. “I don’t have young kids, but I have a lot of people tell me that their kids are very excited to get their boxes home every week and see what is in them. I know I am excited to open my boxes every week.”
Weir said that joining a CSA has allowed her to learn about new vegetables and eat new foods.
“I know I am always making salads and salsas and trying new things,” she said. “We have a recipe library on our website, and I know that the internet has a lot of good CSA recipe sites.
“It is a lot of fun,” she continued. “It is like that (Food Network) TV show Chopped, where you just get a box of food and have to cook something with it.”
For more information, visit the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market or its website at http://www.otsego2000.org/2013/03/15/cooperstown-farmers-market-csa/.