Yesterday, Susan and I went to the Poughkeepsie Farm Project’s annual plant sale. The Poughkeepsie Farm Project started in 1999, leasing a stretch of Vassar College land to create a Community Supported Agriculture program. There are a fixed number of shares to the CSA sold each year, which include a required number of volunteer hours on the farm, and then share holders show up once a week and pick up their bag of fresh vegetables off the farm. This lets the farmer share the risks and rewards of the farm, and allows the farm to run totally organically. If something hits the beans this year, and there aren’t many, that was the risk. If there is a bumper crop of tomatos, those are split equally between all the members. In addition to the CSA, the PFP helps run the farmer’s market in Poughkeepsie, runs programs for bringing Poughkeepsie Youth onto the farm for internships, and gives away 20% of the yield of the farm to local food banks. I first heard about the PFP through one of my classmates in my leadership class last year. She and her husband had been part of the CSA for a few years, and it seemed like a great idea to join up.
At the plant sale the CSA sells starter plants for you garden, each member is mailed a coupon that gets them 2 for free. Given that we had a bit of an aphid explosion on some of our tomatos and peppers, this provided a chance to back fill a few of the plants we lost. After we purchased our plants, we hopped in on a tour of the farm, which spans over 7 acres of fields. They have a 5 year crop rotation model on the farm, which helps replenish the soil, as well as confuse the insects. As soon as some bug figures out a good place to lay eggs for next year, their crop is changed out from under them, so they never establish. At one point we wandered through the asparagus beds, where we were encouraged to reach down and snap of a bit to taste. My god, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted asparagus that fresh, and that delicious, ever. Susan’s eyes lit up incredibly after that. While we’d both been generally into the idea of the CSA, the prospect of the kind of food that we’ll be flush with starting in 2 weeks, and running until November, washed over both of us, and we realized how great of an idea this was.
As we wandered around the farm, we also got the sense of being part of something larger there. The whole PFP mission, with bringing quality food back to the community, is very touching. It will provide a great many opportunities to volunteer beyond just working on the farm, which I’m looking forward to. In an era of styrofoam tasting vegetables delivered via your mega mart from who knows where, the idea that this summer we’re going to get a majority of our vegetables from 5 miles away, grown without chemicals, is very appealing. The promise of huge flats of organic strawberries in a month is something I just can’t wait for. 🙂