Farmers, foodies benefit from C.B. program
A new agriculture program in Cape Breton is offering financial security for farmers and local food for their supporters.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has customers pay for food before it's planted. When the farmers harvest, customers get a share of the crop.
Ryan and Amanda MacInnis run Hillshore Farm in Mabou.
CSA farms started decades ago in Europe and Japan. Today, there are more than 2,500 CSA farms in North America. About 15 operated in Nova Scotia as of 2010.
They took on 14 customers in their first year with CSA.
"What you do is have people sign up at the start of the season and they pay their annual fee, which helps us pay for our seed orders and fuel for tractors and just general running costs for a farm," Amanda MacInnis said.
"For 15 weeks, we deliver a produce box every Wednesday."
This week Hillshore customers got mixed greens, spinach, carrots, onions and a pumpkin. MacInnis said customers look upon the surprise food box as a culinary challenge and a way to eat locally.
Cash for crops
They charge $275 for 80 kilograms of produce. Farmers get the money before the costly planting season and customers get a box of freshly harvested produce every week.
Hillshore Farm also offers a pork, poultry and egg share.
Shauna Barrington is a regular CSA customer at Hillshore Farm. This week she chopped fresh zucchini from the MacInnis farm to fry up for a sandwich. She said she likes having local food delivered to her door.
It's also a way to teach her children where food comes from.
"They kind of arrive there, so you have to use them. We're definitely eating a lot more vegetables than we would otherwise," Barrington said. "I like that it's produced locally and I really like the delivery."
Amanda MacInnis posts recipes to the Hillshore website for each delivery. She and her husband made their final harvest for the season this week.
They hope to expand to 30 customers next year and are exploring working with restaurants.