Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Farm fresh produce at Vancouver Food Co-op

I’ve been looking for a centralized meeting place among local community supported farms in Southwest Washington…a one-stop website where consumers can quickly locate farm specific items. SW WA CSA Farms has a website where many of our local farmers are listed. The website includes basic information about how the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program works. The SW WA CSA Farms site is a starting place, but it is not interactive. It provides contact information. Only. In order to find out each farm’s features, a person would have to personally interview each and every CSA in Southwest Washington. I did manage to visit two farms so far, Northwest Organic Farm and Inspiration Plantation. (See previous posts), but the big project will take time.
Clark County needs an informational hub now, today. Our renewed interest in community interaction and local food production has engendered a need for cohesive, interactive information about local farm products. Nationally, Americans are trending back from social isolation toward a renewed sense of community, and many wonderful information hubs are cropping up. Kirk Wright wants the Vancouver Food Cooperative to become that communications hub for Southwest Washington's self-sustaining local farmers and consumers.
Wright, President of Vancouver Food Cooperative (VFC), in an interview this week, said that while farm fresh produce, dairy and meat products are not their only interests, these products are high in priority at the co-op, and he thinks VFC can help local producers succeed.
As Wright sees it, a dynamic, informative website is an essential part of economic success in today’s world. Besides providing local producers a conveniently located storefront for their products, Wright says a strong web presence is an essential component in linking interested consumers with local producers. VFC is revamping and upgrading its web presence right now. Wright sees a dynamic web presence as key to the co-op's future as well as being important for local farmers.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Interest in pasture-raised meat is mushrooming in Ridgefield

Matt Schwab explaining moveable chicken coop theory to farm visitors

RIDGEFIELD, Washington-- Before today, Matt and Jen Schwab say, when they opened their farm one afternoon each month, maybe five or six visitors would come. On cold and rainy February 18, 2012, more than 50 people showed up to take a look.

Visitors entered the 24 acres of fields near the farm store. Inside the gate 230 new brooder hens clucked and pecked  and next to them a small herd of piglets roamed free. Nearby were Chinese geese, Indian runner ducks and a variety of chickens; but the real attraction was Matt Schwab, farm owner.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Farmers can be Tweeters

Want an easier way to get messages to your buyers? Try Tweets!

Among this year's crop of websites is one that promises farmers they are just a step away from effective blogs, tweets and email campaigns. Targeting farmers,  AgChat offers real help with social advertising. AgChat's advantage over many other attempts to connect farmers into social media. AgChat is a Foundation with sponsors who pay to help make it meet farmers' social media needs.

Agvocacy offers Agchat, a weekly twitter chat at 8 pm Eastern time, where all a person has to do is log in to Twitter or go to the Agvocacy website.
Agvocacy defines  #AgChat  as "a weekly moderated conversation on Twitter for people in the business of raising food, feed, fuel, fiber." Visitors can share viewpoints and ideas about issues impacting agriculture, such as sustainability, water, communications, agronomy, animal welfare, USDA programs, mainstream media coverage and public perceptions of farming; or, they can just sit back and watch the conversation unfold.

Sister chat,  #FoodChat, also a creation of Agvocacy, takes place on the third Tuesday of each month. It is tailored more specifically to the interests of consumers, nutrition professionals, foodies and influencers of food choices. #FoodChat gives its followers an opportunity to “meet a farmer” and also helps those in agriculture learn from consumers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Inspiration Plantation (CSP) Tour on Saturday, February 18

Have you heard about the Inspiration Plantation tour on Saturday, February 18 at 1:30 pm?
Inspiration Plantation offers shares in meat, poultry and egg productions and seeks to aid in the marketing of other locally produced foods. If you want locally raised meat and poultry, this will be a great place to go. You can bet I'll be there.
They posted:
Meat CSP Info Q&A Session and Mini Farm Tour
This Saturday February 18th, 1:30pm

  We will explaining our Meat CSP, answer any & all questions about it as well as our farm and farming practices.  We will also take a mini farm tour!    There is no need to RSVP, simply show up!  Please try to be on time, as this event starts promptly at 1:30pm.  Also, be sure to dress appropriate for the weather - boots are always recommended!
Hope ya'll have a great week and we look forward to seein' some of ya this Saturday!

Matt & Jen Schwab
Farmer & FarmGirl
Inspiration Plantation
a Diversified Family Farm
24311 NW 24th Ave
Ridgefield, WA 98642
Their website has more, go to http://www.inspirationplantation.com/

Thursday, February 9, 2012

CSA share-holders, share your food-share experience at Farm Food Local

VANCOUVER, Washington -- If you are a CSA share-holder in Southwest Washington, please share your experience.
How did you find your CSA?
How did you decide which one to join?
Have you been happy with the food your CSA provides?
How has CSA membership improved life for you and your family?
Any tips for people still deciding whether they want to join a CSA?

CSA farms, post your thoughts at Farm Food Local

VANCOUVER, Washington --Southwest Washington is home to at least 2 dozen community supported farms. If you are one of them, please post here at Farm Food Local about your farm.
How is selling shares in your harvest working for you?
What can people get at your farm that is unique and special about your farm?
Tell us how you started, what you've learned and why people buy shares from you.
Many more people want to join a CSA, so how can they find out what you offer and how to sign up?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Buying into a CSA means no weeds to pull

Joining a CSA  doesn't mean rolling up your pant legs and getting out a hoe.
After reading that some CSA shares sell out early, I chose one almost at random and put my check in the mail.
Well, don't be like me. After mailing the application form and check, I promptly forgot which one I joined. I checked my bank account for a week, thinking the check would post and I could see the name of my payee. No such luck. Turns out farmers are so busy farming they don't get to the bank very often.
I finally went back to the list of websites I'd found on the SWWA CSA website, clicked through them, and decided I would just call all of them until I found the one that had a check with my name on it.
I got lucky and found my CSA with the first call.
Smart peole would make those calls before sending the check, but, I have to confess, I'm elated with the CSA I've joined.
Owning a share in a CSA feels like being a part-owner of that farm, but better because I won't have to pull weeds!   

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Subscribing to a CSA? Shop early

People in Clark County can subscribe to a farm’s crop harvest, but how is it done?
According to Shawn Morrill, store manager at the Vancouver Food Co-op, unless you already know a CSA farmer or member, subscribing to a farm crop, or CSA, requires effort.  Washington State University Small Farms Team, Local Harvest, Inc. and the SW WA CSA are some of the organizations that have lists of farms selling shares of their harvests, and there are others. But getting a list of farms is only the beginning.
Some farms offer a short twelve-week share, while others boast as long as a twenty-four week season. Some offer only a few vegetables, while others offer a wide variety of both fruits and vegetables as well as cheese, eggs, poultry and more. Some are simply alternative farms, while others are holistic, 100 percent organic, vegan, the list of choices goes on. Costs for a share and delivery options vary greatly as well.
While it may be under development, there seems to be no truly all-inclusive clearinghouse of information available for Southwest Washington, so that interested people have to search websites, make phone calls and even visit farms before being able to decide which CSA to join.
A word of caution, farmers recommend that you reserve your share early, because shares in a popular CSA can sell out long before the growing season begins.

Subscription Farming

Buying shares is no longer just a term for the national stock exchange, and food-purchasing contracts are one of Clark County’s popular new trends in household grocery buying.
A growing number of farmers and householders in Southwest Washington, as in communities throughout North America, Europe and Japan, are entering into yearly food harvest contracts. For a contracted sum of money, the farmer supplies households in his network with a percentage of his weekly harvests throughout the growing season. Instead of just hoping to sell their produce at a roadside stand or at a farmers’ market, many farmers are organizing sales through Community Supported Agriculture, better known as CSA’s.
A CSA is a group of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation in exchange for a share of the farm’s food production. Shareholders typically pledge support in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm’s operation for the year, and in return, they receive shares of the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season. Most CSA’s offer a diversity of vegetables, fruits and herbs, with some also offering shares in eggs, meat or dairy products. According to the USDA, the concept of community-supported agriculture, or “subscription farming”, began in Switzerland in the 1960’s, and by 1993, the United States had 400 member CSA’s.
According to Southwest Washington’s SWWA CSA Farms website 16 subscription farms in Clark County have shares to offer interested individuals for the 2012 growing season.