Courtney Hartsfield wanted to feed her 4-year-old twins organic fruits and vegetables, but she couldn’t afford the retail prices. And, as a novice gardener, growing her own produce didn’t seem like an option.
Luckily, the 38-year-old Sugar House resident was willing to work. She joined Live and Thrive Community Supported Agriculture program, one of the few CSAs in Utah that require members to work for food. Members like Hartsfield are learning to garden and in turn are able to take home organic produce.
“I’m trying to eat as locally as possible and as seasonably as possible,” she said. “I just like the idea of knowing where my food is coming from.”
And she knows it intimately.
In traditional CSAs, consumers buy “shares” or a membership in a local farm early in the year and then collect produce once a week when it’s ripe. (CSA’s are different than a community garden where plots are rented and tended by individuals.)
CSA members may know their farmer, but they don’t do the tilling, planting, weeding or picking — though some let members visit the farms or they seek volunteers.
At Live and Thrive, members pay $100 for 10 months of food, but they can’t get the goods unless they’re at the garden, working the fields. During the harvest, it’s a ready-made farmers market, and whoever is there helping can fill their bags.
“I always tell people, ‘If you come more often, you’ll get more food,’” said owner Sheryl McGlochlin, adding that the CSA has no paid employees. “I can’t just give them the food in our group. They need to want to learn how to grow food.”
Recent to-do lists at Live and Thrive included tilling in compost, weeding morning glory, raking and planting new seed starts. Members have already received salad greens, spinach and garlic.
In the six years since McGlochlin started the business, she’s learned people are excited to volunteer in the spring, when they’re anxious to get outside. But even the allure of fresh tomatoes can’t get some of them out during the dead of summer.
“I liken gardening to raising a child, an infant. They’re demanding. Sometimes they’re really cute and sometimes they’re just obnoxious but they still need attention,” she said.
Speaking of children, Hartsfield usually brings hers along to “help.” Last year they helped dig up carrots, pick tomatoes and shoveled dirt, she said. “Having them play in the dirt is really good for them.”
In the beginning • McGlochlin isn’t a gardener by training. But random events inspired her to learn. The seeds were planted two decades ago when her husband was laid off from a job and she realized the family should learn how to be self-sufficient. Later, she started a hiking club and saw people were willing to put in effort to an outdoor activity. And during a hiking trip to the Swiss Alps, she tasted the fruits that grew in terraced gardens at 6,000-foot elevations.
She returned to the flat backyard of her Holladay home and — after seeking advice from neighbors, friends and acquaintances — planted tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce.
Today, she oversees 14 gardens throughout Salt Lake County — all are privately owned but loaned to Live and Thrive.
Some 150 members have joined, though no more than 30 ever show up at a garden at a time. When they do, McGlochlin said she feeds them lunch from produce put up from last year.
There’s a similar CSA model in Ogden. Members of the Skyline CSA are expected to work a couple of hours each week. They’re assigned certain sections of the garden, but they get to harvest from the entire plot on an honor system.
Wes Groesbeck, a master gardener, started the CSA in 2007 on his 3/4-acre property to “see what would happen if we work together communally.” He said the group is close-knit and they do a good job.
“We’re probably going to have the best herb garden in all of Ogden,” he said.
Judi Amsel joined the Ogden CSA a couple years ago. “I’m paying for the privilege of going and working really hard,” she said, noting that she is someone who “thought I couldn’t even learn to grow dirt.”
Now, she’s learned enough to start her own vegetable and herb garden at home even as she tends to the group onions and arugula.
Another benefit: The members hold a monthly potluck, making dishes with ingredients from the garden. Last year, when she was in charge of eggplants, Amsel made a dessert with the nightshade as a pie crust, covered in layers of ricotta cheese, almonds, cinnamon and chocolate.
The CSA, the 58-year-old said, “has given me such a completely different relationship with the Earth and with organic food and the cycle of eating following the season.”
Kim Johnson already knew how to garden, but her backyard plot can’t grow as much variety as Live and Thrive’s three acres. She joined this year.
“I like to have my hands in the dirt,” the 48-year-old Millcreek resident said. “Some people like to go to the gym and work out. I like to garden.”
Join a CSA
Utah’s Community Supported Agriculture programs are currently signing up new members for the 2013 growing season. Here’s a list of where they are located and what it costs to join.
Adam’s Heirlooms • 426 Alta View Drive, Midvale; 801-209-6739 or adamsheirlooms.com. $300 for 20-week half share; $500 for full. Offers one-time share. Add-ons include eggs and fruit.
Appenzell Farm • 1146 East 4400 North, Hyde Park; 435-535-1121 or appenzellfarm.com. Available only in Cache County. $300 for 20-week half share; $500 full. Also sells beef, pork and chicken shares.
Backyard Urban Garden (B.U.G.) Farms • 1411 S. Utah St., Salt Lake City; 801-718-7478 or backyardurbangardens.com. $350 for 22-to-25-week share; $600 for full. Add-on shares include juice, soup, fruit, heirloom, dried beans.
Bell Organic Gardens • 975 Canyon Breeze Lane, Draper; 801-571-7288 or bellorganic.com. $200 for six-week spring share; $480 for 16-week summer share.
Blue Spring Farm • 10855 W. 12800 North, Tremonton; 435-279-0563. $300 for 18-week half share; $550 for full.
Borski Organic Produce Farms • 251 W. 100 South, Kaysville; 801-941-9620 or borskifarms.org. $220 for 15-week single share.
Christiansen Family Farm • 175 E. Sharp Road, Vernon; 435-839-3482 orchristiansenfarm.com. Thirty pounds of pork, beef, ground beef shares. Prices range from $135 to $190.
Copper Moose Farm • Park City; 435-604-0497 or coppermoosefarm.com; $1,442 for 18-to-21-weeks of vegetables and flowers.
Creekside Lane Organics • 3373 S. Creekside Lane, Moab; 435-259-5425 or creeksidelaneorganics.com. $300 for 22-week half share; $500 full.
Delectation of Tomatoes • 3170 W. Lehman Ave., West Valley City; 801-651-5953 or gianttomatoseeds.com. $450 for 26 weeks (includes variety of vegetables and fruits).
East Farms • 4910 West Canvasback Lane, West Point; 801-525-2219 or eastfarmscsa.com. $250 for 16-week half share; $475 full.
Johnson Family Farms • Logan; 435-754-5638 or johnsonfamilyfarms.com. $300 for 19-week half share in Salt Lake City; $450 for full.
La Nay Ferme • 4800 N. East Lawn Drive, Provo; lanayferme.com. Pick-up at the farm. $309 for 12 weeks.
Lau Family Farm • Soda Springs, Idaho; 208-547-3180 or laufamilyfarm.com. Various prices for cuts of beef and lamb delivered to Utah locations.
Liberty Heights Fresh • 1290 S. 1100 East, Salt Lake City; 801-583-7374 or libertyheightsfresh.com. Offers paleo, vegan, vegetarian, omnivore shares from Utah and other western producers and farmers. Pay by the week or longer. Cheese and fruit add-ons.
Little Weber Farms • 5521 S. 6300 West, Hooper; 801-686-4729 or littleweberfarms.com. $350 for 19-week share, including produce, grass-fed beef, cheese and honey; $700 full. Pick up in northern Utah.
Live and Thrive • 3000 E. 5000 South, Holladay; 801-278-5313 or liveandthrive.com. $100 per year for up to six family members. Work in the garden required.
Lost Creek Farms • 8181 N. 2400 West, Amalga; 435) 881-0941. Shares have been sold out.
Mololo Gardens • 361 W. 400 South, Salt Lake City; 801-604-9448 or https://www.facebook.com/molologardens. Prices range from $4 to $22 a week or $80 to $440 for 20 weeks. Can add local vendor share. Option for a full-year share. First time as CSA specializing in “exotic” vegetables and melons.
Nature Hills Farm • 4326 N. 2100 E., Cedar City; 435-559-2791or http://www.naturehillsfarm.com/ Several types of shares including produce, cheese, milk, eggs and jam.
New Dawn Farms • Kanosh; (801) 390-1265 or http://www.newdawnfarm.com. Taking reservations for 2013-14 winter and spring. Delivers to Utah and Salt Lake County. Add-ons include meat, grain and legume shares.
Petersen Family Farm • 11887 S. 4000 West, Riverton; petersenfamilyfarm.com. $250 for 15 weeks. Pick up at the farm. Adding fruit for first time from other local growers.
Ranui Gardens • 1459 Hoytsville Road, Dog Holler; ranui.com. Serves Summit County. $350 for 18-week half share; $725 for full. Egg and flower add-ons.
Red Acre Farm • 2322 W. 4375 North; Cedar City; 435-865-6792 or redacrefarmcsa.org. $260 for 20 weeks half share; $440 for full. Add ons include foraged fruit, farm-fresh eggs, local beef, pork or lamb, bread or cheese.
Skyline • 4815 Skyline Parkway, Ogden; email@example.com or https://sites.google.com/site/skylinecsagarden/home. $300 for 26 weeks plus refundable $200 deposit.
Three Squares Produce • 623 E. Coatsville Ave., Salt Lake City; 801-243-2801 or 3squaresproduce.com. $180 for 18-week half share; $360 for full. Add-ons include grass-fed beef and eggs.
Tagge’s Famous Fruit • 3431 South Hwy 89, Perry; taggesfamousfruit.com; $324 for 15-week half share; $630 for full. Adds ons include local honey, extra produce to freeze or preserve; raw almonds, Tagge jams and salsas, eggs or extra berries.
USU Student Organic Farm • 800 E. 1800 North, North Logan; firstname.lastname@example.org or http://ususof.blogspot.com/p/csa-shares.html. $340 for half share; $570 for full. Shares open to public.
Utah Farms • utahfarmscsa.com. Delivers shares from farms and producers throughout Utah. Offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free shares. $140 for four week-minimum.
Youth Garden Project • 530 S. 400 East, Moab; 435-259-2326 or youthgardenproject.org/csa. $300 for 20-week single share; $575 for full.
Zoe’s Garden • 1700 Fort Lane, Layton; 801-721-8238 or zoegarden.com. Four-season shares lasting nine to 12 weeks each. $35 a week for small share; $55/week for medium and $105/week for large. Can add a meat share.