Eat Your Vegetables

As a child growing up in Massachusetts I would drive to the farm with my mother to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. They had a little store on the property with wooden bins filled with the summer harvest. We are lucky in Rochester to have a variety of ways to buy fresh produce throughout the growing season. There are roadside stands similar to what I grew up with. There is the Public Market where you get fresh peas along side pineapples. But if you really want to know where your food comes from and how it’s grown a local CSA is worth looking into.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) gives you the most direct contact with the farmer. Peacework Organic CSA has been providing fresh produce for Rochester-area members since 1989. Formerly Genesee Valley Organic CSA, Peacework Organic CSA calls Peacework Farm in Newark, N.Y. home and grows vegetables and cover crops on approximately 20 acres, using certified organic production methods.

The CSA offers full and partial shares on a sliding pay scale to accommodate most income levels. Members pick up their shares at Abundance Cooperative Market on Marshall Street. Peacework asks its members to contribute a work shift at the farm during the season to educate them on where their food comes from and build community with other members. “The economics of direct sales make this a win-win solution for farmers and consumers,” said CSA co-founder and farmer emeritus Elizabeth Henderson. “The farmer gets a decent price and the consumer pays less, since there is no middleman. For the farmer, the CSA offers the possibility of a broad support group of people who genuinely care about the farm’s survival and who are willing to share the farmer’s risks. Consumers have the opportunity to connect with the earth, know and trust the people who grow their food and support the local economy.”

The farm hosts potluck picnic lunches every week for the members who work and season opening and closing potluck parties. In addition to providing vegetables, Peacework sources from other local producers throughout the season to offer members access to various meats, eggs, dairy products, fruits, maple syrup and wine.

“Since retiring, I spend a lot of time in the South Wedge where I regularly run into people I know from Peacework CSA – it feels like the neighborhood CSA of choice!” Henderson said. “And the pick-up at Abundance Coop is just a healthy walk or a short bike ride away.”

Similar in approach to a CSA is the Good Food Collective (GFC). Rather than a community of individuals supporting a single farm GFC’s goal is to build a network of farms to support a community. I was a member of the Spring and Summer share last year and it was fun to see what was in season and figure out how to prepare our bounty each week. The Good Food Collective works with small to medium size sustainable growers to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to their members. “Our version of CSA represents a cooperative relationship between consumers and farmers allowing people to buy fresh vegetables and fruit directly from local farmers. Like traditional CSA, our members pay in advance of the growing season and then receive fresh, quality produce during each week of the season. This model provides local farmers with an established market in advance of the growing season and provides members with access to Good Food and real value for their investment.” GFC also offers shares for each season and in more than just produce. They partner with other providers to offer eggs, meat, fruit, bread, pasta, coffee, ice cream and more. There are distribution centers all around the area where you can pick out your own share or choose Pre-Boxed Shares delivered to various workplaces and community locations. It’s like getting a trip to the Farmers’ Market delivered to you.

If you prefer to pick out your own produce from local farmers each week, then mark your calendar for June 12th when the South Wedge Farmers’ Market opens for the season. Every Thursday from 4 to 7 pm, the parking lot at Boulder Coffee will be transformed into a lively festival of friends meeting friends, live music, activities for kids, and wonderful food. Opening Day will feature a Strawberry Festival, assuming Mother Nature cooperates and our sweet, juicy local berries ripen on schedule. Try a strawberry treat prepared by Adrian Baldwin, Executive Chef of Napa Wood-fired Pizzeria, and pick up some pints of berries and recipes to try at home. Several new vendors join returning favorites, bringing the finest seasonal fruits, vegetables, meats, flowers, baked goods, and more, all locally produced. There will be prepared foods to eat right at the market; Le Petit Poutine returns, as does Napa Wood-fired Pizzeria, and Eat Me Ice Cream. Customers are welcome to use EBT/SNAP cards; the Market offers a bonus of $5 in tokens for a minimum $10 EBT token purchase.

The South Wedge Farmers’ Market runs through October 16th located at 100 Alexander St., (at the corner of S. Clinton) and is sponsored by the South Wedge Planning Committee.