Community supported agriculture will again be bringing the farmers market right to the doorstep of local consumers.
Online meal subscription services have grown to a more than $3 billion annual industry in the U.S., allowing customers to pay ahead and have shipped to their home complete meals or ingredients not typically found in grocery stores. But unlike the giant corporate providers, community supported agriculture, or simply CSA, offers shoppers an opportunity to design a custom order of fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers.
On Friday, Magney Legacy Ridge Farm in Fredonia is joining other small farms across the country in celebrating the fourth annual CSA Day. There are scores of CSA farms in the U.S., but Magney Farm is one of only three in Kentucky west of Owensboro to offer organic, locally-grown vegetables for delivery each week.
Getting food from a CSA is different from going to a farmers market or using a grocery delivery service. As a CSA member, you make a commitment to a small farmer in their area for a season's worth of sustainable, local produce that is distributed to members throughout the harvesting season.
Angela Magney, who established her organic farm in 2012 on Pleasant Valley Road between Princeton and Eddyville, said Magney Farm will function a bit differently this year than previously. In 2020, subscribers, or members, can pick and choose what they want and which weeks they want to place orders.
"In the past, our members signed up for a subscription, and we filled their bags with what we had available on the farm each week," Magney said. "As we've grown our farm through the years, we've listened to our customers and made adjustments so we can give them what they want, when they want it."
CSA members of Magney Legacy Ridge Farm can customize their orders each week and have them delivered to their home. The online market for Magney Farm officially opens March 1 and will remain so through mid-December. February is commonly the sign-up period for CSAs, offering farmers revenue when they most need it to get ready for the growing season.
Magney Farm's system is now just like regular online shopping. You pick and choose when you want to place an order, and they deliver orders of $20 or more to your door on Thursday afternoons.
"Sign-up is easy," said Magney. "Just visit MagneyFarm.locallygrown.net and sign up for an account. That account gets you on our weekly email list alerting you when the online market is open for orders. It's up to you when and how often you want to place orders."
While members can customize orders and pay week-by-week, Magney said those committing to 10-, 20- or 40-week memberships receive a discount.
"The time for serious spring planting is upon us. Seeds for the 2020 season have been ordered, a daunting financial figure by the time the entirety of the farm is planted in two rotations of vegetables," Magney said. "Our ability to meet this figure and start off on the right foot is thanks to all our members who participate and purchase seasonal subscriptions. We can't thank our customers enough. We have several who have been supporting our farm since the beginning."
The Magney Farm team has attracted the majority of their CSA members from the Paducah and Murray areas, two communities where the farm team regularly sets up for traditional farmers markets throughout the summer. The goal for 2020 is to attract more CSA members from right at home.
"We have a handful of customers here in our community, but I think there are more people in Caldwell and Lyon counties who would appreciate our service. They just don't know we are here and what we offer," said Magney. "We are certified organic through the USDA and follow all safety practices when it comes to harvesting, processing and packing our vegetables. When you talk about shopping local, it doesn't get much more local than this. Your food is grown locally, packed locally and delivered to you by local people.
"It is our belief that agriculture, particularly the sustainably minded organic agriculture that we practice, is an asset to the food security and health of our region. Your participation in our CSA allows our farm and team members to not only exist, but to live well. We hope that in some way, our service allows you to do the same. We are committed to serving you, our community, with the best produce from our farm."
Magney said during the 2020 season, members will be able to purchase everything from cabbage, squash, radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes to bok choy, swiss chard, edamame and much more, including the addition of farm fresh organic eggs this year.
"People really love our lettuces too -- our head lettuces and our spring mix seem to be favorites with CSA members, farmers markets customers and area chefs," she said. "We offer a wide variety of items each year and always encourage our members to try to new things. We're constantly sharing recipes and other information about the vegetables we harvest here."
Magney said anyone interested in learning more about community supported agriculture or how to become a CSA member my visit the farm website or Facebook page, "Magney Legacy Ridge Farm."
"We love fresh food and we love our community," she said. "Our farm team is dedicated to helping every single person find ways to live a happier, healthier life."