GREAT NEWS! There's a new CSA in town!
Last week, I met with Mike and Amy Richardson, owners of the Richardson Farm CSA. Up until recently, Mike has operated his CSA in Rockdale, TX about 50 miles from Bryan-College Station in collaboration with his father, who specializes in a variety of meats. Those meats have been a favorite in Austin where they are sold not only at the farmers market, but in 5 restaurants in the Austin area.
In recent months, however, both Mike and his wife Amy have found jobs here in the Brazos Valley giving us the opportunity to enjoy their growing and farming expertise as they re-open the CSA in our community.
Though he grew up learning more conventional farming techniques, both father and son have turned to more sustainable practices. The veggies aren't all organic just yet, but Farmer Mike emphasized that he is eager and willing to learn. Most of all, the Richardsons value supporting the local community by providing fresh, healthy foods that are sustainably raised. Of course, I was convinced of his dedication when he used my favorite "M" word, saying it was important that we become more "mindful" of the way our food is grown.
Interestingly, Mike is taking a different approach than most CSAs. Typically, an individual or family purchases a share in the farm that gives them "x" number of weeks of fresh fruits and vegetables. Payment is made up front and (typical for our area) a 3-month membership costs $300; a 1 year membership costs around $900.
The Richardsons are taking a completely different approach. As Mike explained to me, he wants to offer greater choice by not restricting the program to certain time frames or certain foods. You could certainly receive a weekly supply of food if you wanted, but you also have the option to purchase only what you want.
Here's how it works:
- You buy 1 or more shares at $100/share. That share is good for 1 year from the date you purchase it.
- Refer to the farm website to discover what's available each week (or each season).
- Let Farmer Mike know what items you'd like and when/how often (he emphasized to me that he wants share holders to be open about what kinds of foods they'd like to receive. Don't like eggplant? No problem. Want ONLY watermelon? That's fine too!)
- You'll meet Mike at a designated pick-up location (he plans to have 1 in Bryan and 1 in College Station - or more if demand warrants it).
- The items you receive will come out of your invested $100.
The best way I can describe it, is that the $100 share you purchase is like a debit card. You've invested in the farm for a share (or multiple shares) and the food you receive goes against that $100. Buy more shares as you need it. There's no obligation.
Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, it gets better. All the fruits and vegetables will be grown just outside of Bryan on Mike and Amy's farm, but included in the CSA membership is access to chicken, seasonal turkey, pork, and beef from Rockdale, still home to Mike's dad's farm. The meats are all UDSA inspected, sustainably and ethically raised, and delivered to you right here in town. What a deal!
As we concluded our lunch meeting, Farmer Mike reiterated that a CSA is more than good food. It's not just giving people a fresh choice in food, it's also about educating families; ethical farming, and mindful living.
Interested? The Richardsons will start accepting shares on February 15. Although the farm website is not yet active, feel free to call or email the farm for more information or to purchase your shares. Want to play a larger role in the farm? Farmer Mike will host farm days where you can help plant, harvest, mend fences, etc. In return, volunteers will earn share credit to be used to purchase produce and meat.
As soon as their website is launched, I'll be posting it on the side bar under "Local Food Resource Quick Links" as well as in the "Shopping Locally - BCS" food resource list here.
Best wishes for a successful future, Farmer Mike!
For more information on other CSAs in the Bryan College Station area, visit: