BOISE -- With spring here in the Treasure Valley, many local farms are offering their seasonal subscriptions to Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, shares.
The idea is paying for a season of local, fresh produce now and getting weekly installments of fruits and veggies either for pick-up or delivery through the fall.
Many local farms offer these plans, including Global Gardens in Boise. Global Gardens is a non-profit program through the Idaho Office for Refugees that helps refugees with agricultural businesses from getting land and growing, to marketing and selling.
Refugee farmers from around the world sell their produce at farmers markets and through CSA shares. The up-front money helps farms invest in the farms, and farmers like the refugees in this program, for the entire season.
Because at the beginning of the year, when we get that payment we can use it to invest in things like shovels, spades, wheelbarrows, irrigation, seeds, everything a farm business needs to run, Lauren Greig, Global Gardens Program Assistant, said.
The demand for CSA shares has been increasing, and more farms are offering the option of shares and increasing the types of programs offered.
There's a huge part of society in the U.S. that wants local food, and the question is: How do we make it more available? How do we make it easier for customers? CSA is a great model for that, Greig said.
Safiya Abdi is one of the refugees who works with Global Gardens. She was born in Somalia and then grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya. Eight years ago, she moved to Idaho, and in 2010, she started farming with Global Gardens.
It does help the local families. It does help the refugees learn they can do business in the United States, Abdi said.
Greig points out CSAs ensure a regular supply of vegetables and can encourage healthier eating. Abdi believes families benefit from local food sources of produce, like using CSAs.
It's fresh...You're getting your veggies just from the garden, so that's the best thing you can get. Give your children the best fresh food from the garden. Plus (we use) no spray, no chemical, nothing, Abdi said.
Global Gardens offers different options, but an example of a plan is paying $439 for 20 weeks of vegetables starting at the end of this month.
To learn more about some area CSA programs, see the links below, with information from each farm's website:
Global Gardens (options for vegetable, fruit and meat shares)
Peaceful Belly (options for vegetable, fruit, and flower bouquet and pickle add-ons)
Morning Owl Farm (options include vegetable, fruit, and some meat and honey)
Field Goods Farm (shares include vegetables, fruit, and herbs)