Connect with local farmers at CSA fair this Sunday

Community Garden
The Johnson County Food Policy Council is holding a forum that will discuss community gardens. — photo by chanzi via Flickr Creative Commons

CSA Fair

Zion Lutheran Church – Sunday, March 8 from 9:15-11:15 a.m.

In an effort to foster community-supported agriculture, Zion Lutheran Church (310 N. Johnson St.) is hosting a CSA fair this Sunday, March 8 at 9:15 a.m. to educate and inform about opportunities in the Iowa City area.

Community-supported agriculture, or CSA, is a locally based method of food distribution where consumers purchase memberships with a farm, and in return receive weekly shares of produce from the farmer during harvesting season. At Sunday’s fair, those interested in purchasing a CSA will have the opportunity to learn about what different area farms offer.

“Visiting with the producers, you can learn about what they grow, their sustainability practices and the benefits of eating fresh, locally grown foods,” said Mary Merulla, a staff member of the Zion Lutheran Church and the event organizer.

CSA memberships often begin in April or May and last through October, though there are winter shares and every farm has its own season. Shares usually run around $100 to $300 depending on the length of the season, and farms often offer a variety of different sizes of shares to accommodate the different needs of families and individuals.

“Most of the local CSA’s offer small or half shares, and many of the farmers around here are willing to do payment plans or work exchange,” said Cassidy Bell, Program Coordinator for Local Foods Connection, an area nonprofit.

While CSAs are a great way to access fresh fruits and veggies through the spring, summer and fall, Bell says they also offer the opportunity to connect with others involved in the local food system.

“When you purchase a CSA, you truly do become part of a community,” Bell said. “Whether the pickup is at the farm, at a farmers’ market or at a third-party location, you have the opportunity to meet like-minded folks, exchange recipes and tips, and make new friends.”

The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in learning more about the CSA model or wish to begin to make connections with local farmers are encouraged to attend this Sunday from 9:15 – 11:15 a.m.

“Even if you aren’t sure a CSA is right for you this year, it’s great to stop by the fair and talk to farmers,” said Bell.