Juniper Hill Farm and the Warrensburgh Beautification Committee are expanding their community-supported agriculture program to offer fresh local food to more people in the region.
Previously, the program was CSA program was offered to individuals and families as part of the Warren County farmer’s market initiative. This year, the CSA will be offering fresh produce to restaurants and businesses as well, CSA director Teresa Whalen said. Whalen is founder of both Warrensburgh Beautification and the town’s farmers’ market.
“The price point of locally fresh grown foods reflects the value,” Whalen said. “Consumers are becoming very educated about their food choices and restaurants need to keep up and more aggressively source local foods. The CSA gives them a way of accomplishing that objective that is simple and accessible,” Whalen said.
Dunham’s Bay Resort in Lake George has participated in the CSA Program for three years, and their principal chef has cited it as being a boost for it’s bottom line.
“I was skeptical at first — you always hear about how expensive buying locally can be,” Dunham’s Bay head chef A.J. Richards said. “When compared the CSA pricing with prices of a large supply warehouse, I came up $750 to $1,000 dollars ahead. I was shocked.”
One CSA farm share a typically feeds a family of four, according to Whalen. Richards said that in their establishment one share can feed up to 10 patrons.
Dunham’s Bay published a sidebar on their menu explaining to customers that produce and products used in preparation of their food is “farm-to -table” fresh with local ties, Richards said.
“The love a farmer puts into a tomato makes for a much better product than you can buy at the store,” Richards said. “I wanted to make local involvement ‘my baby’ here.”
Shares from the program will be distributed weekly and are fully customizeable including farm-fresh products such as eggs, yogurt, meats, poultry and field-grown flowers. Payment plans will be offered with the program and online selections may be made.
The concept of the CSA is to bring fresh locally grown foods to the surrounding communities, while helping boost economical resources for local farmers, Whalen said.
“We need small farms and we need to nurture them,” she said. “The CSA gives farmers the money they need at the beginning of the season, money they would otherwise have to borrow and pay interest on. This way farmers are able to pass on that savings to consumers.”
Juniper Hill Farm in Essex County provides the products for the CSA, making this a bicounty effort. This year marks the fourth growing season for Juniper Hill as part of the CSA program.
During the summer months, Juniper Hill can be found selling their products at seven local farmers markets as well as providing wholesale goods to local chefs and restaurants. Juniper Hill has been recognized by New York State as farm that provides certified naturally grown foods.
As part of the promotion for healthy lifestyle the Warren County CSA is also making a push for local businesses to offer farm shares as part of their benefits packages, Whalen said.
“Farm shares are a great way to access local foods, especially for people who may not be able to get to farmers markets,” said Whalen. “Employers offering this is a good first step.”
For more information or to participate in this year’s CSA, contact Teresa Whalen at 466-5497 or see: juniperhillfarmcsa.com