Winter Green Farm started life in the 1990s with 35 people willing to join a pretty novel idea — they’d pay for a season’s supply of vegetables upfront. They’d get those veggies week-by-week, as the greens and corns and peppers pop out of the ground.
Less than 25 years later, the farmers were up to 650 with the boom of consumer-supported agriculture — what is commonly called CSAs.
This year, Linda Davies at Winter Green guessed the farm would have 500 customers. They’d actually lost customers now that more small farms are offering the same service.
“It’s a great way to support your local farmers and to eat locally,” Davies said. “You can’t get much fresher food than food that was picked the day before for you.”
The boom of CSAs is perhaps most apparent in the Portland area, where there are 51 farms that deliver in the city. In 2015, those farms made a combined $2.4 million.
Steve Cohen manages food policy and programs for Portland, and his office tracks those numbers each year. He said the number of “shares” — a share in a farm’s produce — have held steady at about 6,000 per year.
If you go When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday Where: 831 SE Salmon St. Cost: Free What: Meet and greet with more than 40 local farmers; cooking demos with local chefs; cookbook swap meet; activities for kids
However, farmers and food advocates think that number could be higher. To help teach consumers about what a CSA is and find the right fit, farmers set up the CSA Fair Share. On Saturday, more than 40 local farmers will set up shop at The Redd building, 831 SE Salmon St, to meet customers.
The idea is to explain how each individual CSA works — how often will you get a box, where can you pick it up, what will be in it, how much it costs.
Davies of Winter Green Farm will be there, driving up from the Eugene area where the farm is located. She will be teaching people about their biodynamic farm, which might appeal to some.
Others will be pitching their specialty CSA for those who just want fresh cut flowers each week, or salsa supplies or kosher ingredients.
Portland chefs will also demonstrate how to cook with CSA produce, meat and fish. There will be a cookbook swap and activities for kids.
— Molly Harbarger