The Sustainable Table: That’s My Farmer

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JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — Tomatoes, berries, squash–they’re part of the delicious seasons that are summer and fall here in Oregon.

Though it will be a few months before people get to taste them, local farms are already preparing for the harvest.

“Right now, we’re starting all the seedlings for the season. We have onions, broccoli, kale, chard, lettuce and all the early season stuff,” said Jonah Bloch, Camas Swale Farm Owner.

These are the first steps of preparation for the bountiful spring and summer to come at Camas Swale Farm.

“As the season progresses, we grow tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants, carrots, beets. Pretty much everything the season allows us to,” Bloch said.

As the seedlings sprout in one greenhouse, another on the farm property is bursting with life. Bloch harvests spinach, lettuce and kale several times a week for the farm’s 50-member Community Supported Agriculture program.

“We really focus on the CSA. I’d say more than half of what we grow goes to our CSA,” Bloch said.

“About 20 to 25 percent of our business is based on CSAs,” said John Deck, Deck Family Farm Owner.

Deck Family Farm provides CSAs full of meat, pig, chicken, sheep and cow.

“It allows us to be more efficient. It makes it so we can deliver product more directly to consumers,” Deck said.

That direct connection benefits both sides of the transaction. CSA members get better bang for their buck, and the farms take home more profit.

“That allows us to invest in the season, and most CSAs end up being pretty generous as the season really shows its abundance,” Bloch said.

To share that abundance, though, the farms need people to subscribe to their CSAs. The idea is members buy in this time of year, giving farmers the capital to get their crops started.

“You will be giving them money at the beginning of the season, then you reap the harvest along with them,” said Katharine Hunt, That’s My Farmer Organizer.

Every farm offers something different, maybe one has a focus on fruits and another on meat, you can shop around every spring at That’s My Farmer.

“The first year we went to That’s My Farmer, we met families and those families are our customers today. So we have developed some really great long-term, lasting relationships,” Deck said.

It’s a partnership between local farms and the Eugene faith community. This year, 14 local CSA providers will team up with 14 local churches.

“Community Supported Agriculture offers an easy way for organizations like churches to connect with farms,” said John Pitney, First United Methodist Pastor.

Pitney launched the event 14 years ago. He says the collaboration just makes sense.

“Pretty much all of us have in our faith story, something about being created from the dirt, coming from there and returning to there,” Pitney said.

That dirt is providing life in a religious sense and in a literal sense. It helps these plants grow, these farms thrive, and this community sustain itself.

“Support local farming, support local foods, support local entrepreneurs,” Bloch said.

You can check out That’s My Farmer on April 16 at the First United Methodist Church, located at 13th Avenue and Olive Street in Eugene. Click here for more information.

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