ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Joining a CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture) program connects you directly with local farms in your community. ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) offers several events and resources to learn more about CSAs, in which members buy a “share” of a farm’s harvest upfront and receive a weekly box of fresh produce or other farm goods. ASAP will host CSA Fairs from 4 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the Hendersonville Community Co-op and on March 11 at the YWCA of Asheville. In addition, Full Share, a free guide listing 60 CSA farms in the Appalachian Grown region, is available now at farmers markets and community centers throughout the region as well as digitally at asapconnections.org/find-
Both CSA Fairs will feature farms providing CSAs in Buncombe and Henderson counties and the surrounding region. In addition to traditional produce farms, the fairs will include several farms with specialty CSA products, such as meat, flowers, or medicinal herbs. CSA Fairs are relaxed settings where attendees can talk to farmers about their products, growing practices, payment structure, and more. Attendees can sign up for CSAs during the fair or follow up with farmers later. Both events are free and open to the public.
For farmers, the CSA Fair is a chance to build relationships, even if attendees decide not to purchase a share. “[The customers we meet at the CSA Fair] tend to really want to know the farmer and the food, meaning they are a bit more adventurous when it comes to trying new things,” says K.P. Whaley of Tiny Bridge Farm. “They are interested in knowing how and what we are growing, and really want us to be successful as a farm operation. We may get some customers from the fair and that’s great. But we also start building relationships with future customers.”
As of press time, participating farms at the Hendersonville CSA Fair include Colfax Creek Farm, Lunar Whale Herbs, Terra Lingua Growers, and Tiny Bridge Farm. At the Asheville CSA Fair, farms include Blazing Star Flowers, Creekside Farm, Encompass Farm, Lunar Whale Herbs, Oak Holler Farm, Olivette Farm, and Tiny Bridge Farm. More farms will be added as they are confirmed. Check asapconnections.org/events/
–Sarah Hart, ASAP