Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Community Rallies to Support Community Supported Agriculture
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Sylvie Dore hands over fresh produce from Lookout Farm to Grant family members.
   
Saturday, September 26, 2020
 

BY KATE DALY

The demand for local fresh vegetables is up, based on the boon in business for farmers offering Community Supported Agriculture subscriptions in the Wood River Valley this summer.

 Squash Blossom Farm and Lookout Farm in the Bellevue area are busier than ever supplying their regular customers with a wide variety of just harvested produce.

Both farms offer weekly or every other week options to pick up bags of vegetables at three different locations, or pay extra to have them delivered.

 
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Squash Blossom Farm’s Ed Zinader and Sara Berman serve customers at the Ketchum Farmers Market.
 

 Now in its fifth year as a CSA, Squash Blossom Farm was going to cut back on its subscription service. Then, COVID hit, and owner Ed Zinader and his wife Sara Berman decided to increase service instead to accommodate 80 customers for 18 weeks this summer.

 Zinader says they ended up renting an acre at Hillside Ranch in the Bellevue Triangle to grow more crops, because they took a half-acre of their field out of production to plant legumes, turnips and radishes to enrich the soil with nitrogen and organic matter. When left to ripen they are reworked back into the ground.

“Every time we’re taking vegetables off the farm, we’re taking out nutrients,” Zinader explains.

They also use hoop houses to help extend the natural growing season and found last spring was a challenging beginning when hundreds of gardeners wanted to buy new plant starts from Squash Blossom Farm.

 
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CSA subscriber Andrew Stoddard picks up his weekly allotment at the Ketchum Farmers Market.
 

 For CSA customers, “We’re constantly adding new vegetables every week,” he says.

 Zinader and Berman also grow staples such as broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans that sometimes are only available to weekly clients and not for sale to the general public.

 Berman describes their CSA clientele as “a certain type of person, you have to be a little creative and try new things.”

 Tracy Lee of Ketchum swings by the Ketchum Farmers Market every week to pick up her bag. With two kids at home she’s grateful for the fresh food and the recipes.

 
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Mandie Wilson shows off the green beans that were only available to CSA customers that day.
 

 “They give me vegetables I wouldn’t otherwise buy, so it’s fun,” she says.

 She found, for instance, that the shishito peppers can be hot or not.

 “We all try to keep an open mind,” she says.

Another CSA customer, Mindie Wilson of Hailey, enjoyed making the recipe for shishito poppers that recently came with her “amazing variety” of vegetables from Squash Blossom Farm. 

 
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Tracy Lee picks up her CSA order from Squash Blossom Farm’s booth every week.
 

 She feeds a household of four but confesses that the tomatoes are so tasty and tempting that sometimes they don’t even make it home from the farmers market.

 This is Lookout Farm’s second year in production, using self-described “beyond organic” practices on a former hay field that was part of the historic Henry Miller mansion.  The farm doubled its numbers of CSA subscribers from 40 to 80 this year.

 Simon Neely and his wife Brianna Swette are so tied to working on the farm this summer they hired Sylvie Dore of Hailey to help cover their farmers market booth.

 Lookout Farm uses greenhouses and high tunnels to grow more than 40 different crops for their CSA customers for 26 weeks, starting in June and ending at Thanksgiving. A full share costs $650; a half share, $375.

 Sharon Grant of Ketchum has a half share subscription and bikes over to the Ketchum Farmers Market with her two young boys to pick up their bag every other week. Occasionally, she adds to her bag of fresh vegetables.

 She finds the carrots are “super sweet” and popular with her kids. They like to eat them raw with the leaves on, pretending to be bunnies.

Andrew Stoddard of Ketchum looks forward to picking up his CSA bag when he goes to the farmers market every week.

 “I like eating the fresh greens grown nearby. The kale and basil have been amazing this summer,” he says.

 He admits he’s not a big fan of beets but has found a solution: “We juice them with kale and something sweet.”

 The two farms’ CSA subscription services are similar in that there are full or half shares, some swapping allowed, discounts on purchases at the farmers markets, and credit systems. Lookout Farm also offers customers who miss a week the opportunity to donate to The Advocates in Hailey.

 

 

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