Through community supported agriculture, or CSA, customers buy shares in farms before the season starts, then receive a portion of the harvest later in the year.
“It gives farmers a financial boost at the beginning of season, and helps them get seeds and plants and whatever they need to get going,” the Appalachian Resource Conservation and Development Council’s Kayla Tucker said. “Consumers get access to fresh fruits and veggies, or whatever they’re producing, by buying a share, and it helps them make a yearlong commitment to themselves, their health and their family.”
Since the 1980s, community supported agriculture programs have grown in the U.S. alongside environmental and health movements. Now, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 12,000 participating farms nationwide.
A Different Chick Farm in Johnson City is one of them.
Tiffany and Steven Stanley own the farm on Antioch Road and run it with the help of their children. They grow and sell fruit trees, fruit and vegetable plants, produce, chickens and eggs.
Last year, Tiffany said A Different Chick started offering shares on its website in exchange for weekly produce boxes.
In addition to whatever naturally grown fruits and veggies are ripe that week, shareholders also can choose to add eggs, insane hot peppers, baked goods or herbs to their boxes.
Tiffany said interest in the boxes was good last year, but is even greater this year. The farm will also be at Saturday’s CSA fair.
“Community supported agriculture is very important to small farms,” she said. “With small farms, we have a lot of up front costs, like planting amendments, plants, seeds, heat for our greenhouse, there’s a lot of up front expense not all farms are prepared for. The investment from CSAs helps us overcome those startup costs and make up for the rest of the year.”
The list of farms planning to participate in the CSA fair as of last week are:
• A Different Chick.
• Appalachian Sustainable Development.
• Laurel Brooks Farm.
• Creative Seeds Farm.
• River Valley Farm.
• Pollinator Produce Partners.
• Busy Bees Oasis.
• Rain Crow Farm.
The fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kingsport Farmers Market, 308 Clinchfield St.