Growing support for CSA farms - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Growing support for CSA farms

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TRIPOLI (KWWL) -- Most farmers haven't begun planting this year's crops, but many Iowa families are already investing in their share of the produce. The number of people joining "Community Supported Agriculture" farms, or CSA's, is growing...fast. According to the RVED National CSA Database, there are an estimated 1,400 farms nationwide. A recent survey from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture suggests CSA membership has grown 50% in the past two years.

A local couple is seeing the same trend, and working to introduce more families to the idea of buying into their local farms. Seven years ago the Faux's moved to an acreage near Tripoli. They're actually both PhD professors, but finding a liberal arts college with two openings is rare. So when Tammy Faux accepted a job at Wartburg College, her husband Rob decided to expand his love of gardening.

"The nice this about this is I'm still teaching. I haven't really forsaken the first career, it's just moved subject areas," noted Rob Faux.

The Faux's started selling their excess produce at a local farmer's market, but it didn't seem like the right fit for them.

"Our first market we sold all of $6 of produce," Rob said.

So instead of marketing their produce after it was picked, they decided to sell it before it even goes in the ground.

"It's kind of like a magazine subscription," Tammy explained.

Community Supported Agriculture allows you to pay a "subscription" in the spring. Then, every week of the growing season, you pick up your share of the crop.

"We like to tell them that we're their personal farmers. And that's the idea...is that we really want them to feel like this is their farm. They're not just buying produce, they're buying a share - a piece - of the farm," said Tammy.

Genuine Faux Farm began with about twenty families, with vegetables growing on less than an acre of land. This year, the Faux's are planning, and planting, for one-hundred twenty, and tilling five acres of their property.

"I think people are just trying to look to find ways to eat more healthfully as well as support the local economy," said Tammy.

"You see how it's being raised, and we're beginning to learn more about the health that comes from fresh produce -- as opposed to produce that was picked before it was ready and then shipped.  And I think people are really starting to believe that," added Rob.

Rob and Tammy are not going to get rich off their CSA farm anytime soon. But, that's okay with them. They care more about growing their community, not their bank account.

"They start these conversations -- what did you do with your eggplant last week? Well, I tried this," Tammy recalled. "And suddenly people are talking to people, they're meeting people in the community. And so it becomes a real network."

The Faux's point out, joining a CSA takes a little courage. When you shop at a farmer's market, you decide what you're buying. CSA members take home whatever produce is fresh that week. So you have to be willing to try new vegetables, and new recipes.

You can find a local CSA farm, including Genuine Faux Farm, by clicking here.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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