Farms and farmers throughout the Muskegon area will celebrate the fourth annual CSA Day next Friday, Feb. 28—a day that’s meant to support and highlight the importance of local agriculture.
The event is a chance for farmers, here and across the country, to connect with those who are interested in supporting CSA—community supported agriculture—programs. For those unfamiliar with CSAs, think of them as direct connections between a local farm and a consumer. A customer purchases what’s known as a “share” of a CSA program, which means they regularly receive portions of what is grown on a local farm. Often, those participating in a CSA will pick up their fruits, vegetables, meat, milk, eggs, and more directly from the farm; other times, CSAs will deliver or bring the groceries to specific pick-up locations.
Farmers explained that CSAs allow small farms to flourish, as well as further bridge the gap with a public that, even in farm-heavy Michigan, isn’t always connected to locally-grown food.
“One of our favorite parts of farming is sharing our love of good food with our community,” Lundell Farms owner Lori Lundell said in a press release about CSA Day. “We love to meet new members and talk about food with them.”
There are a number of CSA programs throughout Muskegon, including:
- Carrot Chariot, a fairly new CSA program that grows its food on a Whitehall farm and then delivers to its customers.
- Crisp Country Acres is based in Holland but offers a CSA pick-up at the Muskegon Farmers Market, 242 W. Western Ave., Muskegon
- Lundell Farms, 4669 Lorenson Rd., North Muskegon
- McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm, located at the corner of Hoyt Street and East Larch Avenue in Muskegon
- Tortoise and Hare Farm, 3940 N. Weber Rd., Muskegon
[If you know of other local CSA programs, please let us know and we’ll add them to the list! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
According to Small Farm Center, the organization that launched CSA Day, the end of February is the most popular time for CSA sign-ups. To further support and grow support for small farms across the United States, CSA Day was created four years ago and has since aimed to give local agriculture a larger platform to explain the important role they play in everything from the economy to health.
“CSA members take pleasure in knowing where and how their food is grown, and typically have an open line of communication with the farmer,” Small Farm Center said in press release.
Of course, you don’t have to sign up for a CSA on Feb. 28, and farmers in Muskegon said they’re happy to field questions or meet with residents curious about CSAs—or anything about their farms—at any time. But, farmers say they hope the day will bring an influx of customers, as well as shine a light on locally grown food and the role it plays in addressing food deserts in Muskegn and promoting healthy eating. At McLaughlin Grows Urban Farm, which is operated by the nonprofit Community enCompass, for example, Farm Manager Mikayla Rowden said the CSA program is meant to provide for anyone who wants it—especially for families who are struggling to get to, and afford fresh fruits and vegetables, at the grocery store.
“A lot of people in the neighborhood don’t have reliable transportation,” Rowden previously said of the McLaughlin neighborhood, where the farm is based. “Getting to Meijer is difficult. I found a lot of people in the area are getting their groceries from Westco or a local liquor store. It’s sad to me we don’t have fresh food for everyone close by.”
Lundell has also emphasized how CSAs benefit the environment.
“Did you know that the average food in the grocery store has traveled 1,500 miles to get there?” Lundell wrote in a column published in the Muskegon Times. “With a local CSA, your produce will have only traveled a tiny fraction of that distance. It will be harvested at the height of ripeness, which leads to better flavor and higher nutritional value. There is likely to be much less packaging. Many CSA farms also follow organic practices avoiding pesticides and herbicides. A CSA can give you fresher, more nutrient dense foods, all while helping to save the planet.”