Vegetable Gardening for Dummies: A Novice's Guide

Vegetable Gardening for Dummies: A Novice's Guide
Editor's Note: This is a guest blog from our friends over at RedShed.

Gardening is a great way to eat healthy and enjoy the outdoors.  This guide is made for anyone wanting to learn how to make a garden and how to grow vegetables for that garden.  In this guide you will learn how to select the proper location for your garden, learn about tools needed for the garden, how to prepare soil and how to grow basic vegetables.

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Succession Planting/Second-Season Farming


Broccoli seedlings in planters on the front deck. These babies will be moved to the greenhouse when the weather turns.
Gardeners in the north may not have the climate conditions of our neighbors down south that allow them to essentially harvest vegetables year-round, but we can adopt a method known as “succession planting” to maximize our yield.

Succession planting is the rotation of crops and recycling of space; it allows gardeners to pull out spent vegetables and replant new ones, and it can increase total yields and improve the quality of vegetables.


Hardiness zones, ranging from 1 to 10 (lowest to highest temperatures), designate which plants are capable of thriving in a particular location. According to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, upstate New York is zones 3 to 6, meaning that plants should be grown that can withstand temperatures of -40 °F to -5 °F. Crops that can grow well under these conditions include arugula, broccoli, cilantro, kale, lettuce, peas, and spinach. Plant them in July or early August and they will be ready for harvest from September to November.

Eliot Coleman, gardening guru and author of The Winter Harvest Handbook, states, “If farmed intensively, a small area of land can be very productive. The key to increased productivity is to make better year-round use of every square foot.”

4 tips for successful succession planting:
  • Once plants start to wilt, pull them out and replant them using all of the available space. (Then compost the old plants!)
  • It’s important to keep the soil moist. If it dries out, the seeds may die and you will have to start over. As a general rule, seeds planted in the late summer should be sown twice as deep as in the spring. Installing shade nets or using natural trellises and tall plants can shade new plants from the sun.
  • Choose plants that thrive in cool temperatures, such as arugula, beets, broccoli, carrots, kale, lettuce, spinach, and all kinds of Asian greens. Pick varieties that are disease-resistant and mature quickly.
  • Because cooler temperatures and shorter days slow plant growth, add an extra 14 days to the days-to-maturity figure on the seed packet to find your summer planting date. When cold weather arrives, cover plants with garden fabric or use a cold frame to protect them.
At Better Farm, we've replanted lettuce, spinach, wheat grass, peas, and broccoli; while continuing our indoor aquaponics and hydroponics setups with tomatoes and salad greens. Stay tuned for more photos of our progress!

For a great guide on what to plant and when for your hardiness zone, click here.


Garden Goes Berserk; Bulk Food Orders Now Available!

Sweet potato squash!
Better Farm's gardens are literally bursting forth with delicious, fresh produce—which means we're now taking discounted orders for organic food that's available for delivery, pick-up, or pick-your-own on a one-time, weekly, or daily basis.

Look at all this beauty!
Organic, heirloom tomatoes: perfect for sauces, salads, sandwiches, and more!
Tomatoes, onions (red, white, yellow), garlic
White Scallop Squash
We are offering a pick-your-own bag sale, in which you can fill a grocery bag with as much produce as you can pick for $15. Or, place an order now for up to 50-percent off bulk rates of the following organic produce items:
  • Apples (heirloom)
  • Beets
  • Borage (edible flowers, great as garnishes)
  • Chives
  • Cilantro
  • Corn
  • Elderberries (frozen)
  • Kale 
  • Leeks
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Cucumbers
  • Lettuce 
  • Mint
  • Nasturtium
  • Onions
  • Oregano (giant red, standard)
  • Pumpkins
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Soybeans (Edamame)
  • String Beans
  • Sweet Potato Squash
  • Swiss Chard
  • Wheat Grass
  • White Scallop Squash
 Place your orders or set up a pick-your-own visit by calling (315) 482-2536 or emailing info@betterfarm.org.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Canning Frenzy

Canned beats and dilly beans.
Equipped with a borrowed pressure canner, a canning book from the 70's, the Internet, and and a garden overflowing with fresh, organic produce, the crew at Better Farm took off on a canning project that will provide the people here (and some of our very favorite neighbors and CSA members) with delicious, canned meals for months to come.

Here are a few of the recipes we used. Send us yours at info@betterfarm.org!

Elderberry Jam 
From Recipe Wise-UK Edition
Elderberry Jam is a lovely tasting jam with a beautiful color—but always be sure to use ripe berries to prevent the jam from becoming too tart. We picked wild elderberries along the roadside and spent a week utilizing them in Belgian waffles, scones, and pies. Toward the end of the week when they were perfectly ripened, we froze what we had left after siphoning off some for this jam recipe. To ensure a good set you can use a jam sugar with added pectin, but the lemon juice should help set the jam
Ingredients:
  • Ratio of 1:1 elderberries and sugar
  • 1/2 lemon for every 2 cups of elderberries (juice and zest)
  • 1 tsp. butter (or vegan equivalent) for every 2 cups of elderberries
Instructions

Rinse each elderberry cluster under running water, then drain thoroughly. Work on one small cluster at a time, gently pulling your fingers through and across the clusters to dislodge the berries from the tough stems – only use berries that are completely blue or blue-black, do not use any green berries, or any partially green berries, as they are not ripe and they will spoil the jam. Once you have de-stalked the berries rinse under running water once again. Simmer the elderberries in a dry preserving-pan, slightly bruising them, and stirring them about, with a wooden spoon. When the juice runs put in one-third of the sugar, and let the mixture simmer slowly up to the boiling-point. Break the berries up with the wooden spoon or a masher. When the berries are thoroughly soft and pulpy, take them off the heat and press the sugary pulp through a fine-meshed sieve – no seeds must go through – catching all the juice and pulp in a bowl below. Disclaimer: We let some of the seeds survive for an authentic jam experience! Put the pulp and juice, remaining sugar, lemon juice, butter, and the grated lemon-rind, back into the cleaned preserving pan. Let this simmer for half an hour, stirring and skimming frequently. After 30 minutes, boil for 10 minutes to the setting point. Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any scum and impurities from the surface using a slotted spoon. Leave to cool for 5 minutes. Pour the Elderberry Jam into warmed sterilized jars and seal. Leave the jars to cool completely, then label and store in a cool, dark place.


Pickled Beets
From MyRecipes.com
Ingredients
  • 1 pound small beets (about 7 beets) 
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
Instructions
Rinse out your canner, put the rack in the bottom, and fill it  with hot tap water. Put it on the stove over low heat just to get it heating up for later on. Meanwhile, leave root and 1-inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Place in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Cool slightly. Trim off beet roots; rub off skins. Thinly slice beets; place in a large bowl. Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Pour vinegar mixture over beets; then pour into glass Mason jars. Allow for 1/2 inch of headspace in the top of the jar. Put the lids on each jar and seal them by putting a ring on and screwing it down snugly (but not with all your might, just "snug").Put the jars in the canner and the lid on the canner. Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner.  Make sure the tops of the jars are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Process for thirty minutes. You can use either a plain water bath canner OR a pressure canner, since the vinegar adds so much acidity (if you can vegetables other than tomatoes without adding vinegar, you must use a pressure canner).

Dilly Beans
From Simply Canning

Note: As with the pickled beets, using vinegar in the recipe negates the need to use a pressure canner. If you are making these recipes without the vinegar, the food is too acidic to not use a pressure canner. Always keep this in mind in order to ensure food safety!
Ingredients

  • Green Beans - enough to make 4 pints or about 2 pounds
  • 4 sprigs of fresh dill weed or 4 heads of dill.
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup canning salt
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) 
Instructions
Wash beans - snap off ends and snap (break or cut) to jar length. Add sprig of dill weed (or head of dill) (or 1 tsp dill seeds) and 1 garlic clove to each jar. if you like spicy try adding 1/8 tsp cayenne to each jar. Pack each jar with beans length ways. You can also cut your beans short and pack them that way. I just think it looks nice to have them long and lengthways. An easy way to do this is to tip the jar in your hand and fill. This way the beans stack nicely. Combine -vinegar, water and salt to make the pickling solution or brine.  Bring this to a boil. The best way to do this is in a stainless steel tea pot. It makes it so easy to just pour the brine into each jar without having to use  a ladle. Turn the heat off your brine and when bubbling stops, cover beans with pickling solution, leaving 1/4 inch head space. emove air bubbles with a plastic knife or other small tool. Just push the tool gently between the dilly beans moving things around just enough to let the air bubbles rise. There is a tool you can buy specifically for this purpose, but an orange peeler is what I always turn to. It just fits perfectly and is usually hand. Wipe rims clean, you don't want any pickling solution or bean bits on the rim of the jar.  It may interfere with the sealing process.  Then... process for 10 minutes per quart.

Zucchini Relish!

Best. Relish. Ever.

The zucchini is coming in hot this week in the Better Farm garden, leading to a rainy-day decision to put it to good use and can up some sweet zucchini relish! Based on what we found in the kitchen cabinets, Xuan and I cooked up a fresh batch, forged from two different recipes we found online.

The recipes came from Food.com and Taste of Home sites.  Borrowing some tips from each, here are the steps Xuan and I took to make the (truly, absolutely delicious) relish.

Ingredients

  • 5 c. finely chopped zucchini
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 Tbs. pickling salt (we used sea salt)
  • 1 ¼ c. granulated sugar
  • ¾ c. apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch

Instructions

Xuan Du chops up some heirloom zucchinis.

  1. Finely chop the zucchini and onions, and add them to a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the salt and let the mixture sit for one hour.
  3. Drain the mixture through a sieve, rinse, and drain again. Press out as much water as possible.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine mix with granulated sugar, cider vinegar, curry powder, celery seed, black pepper and turmeric.
  5. Bring everything to a boil on high heat, then gently boil for about 15 minutes.
  6. Stir blended water and cornstarch into the pot and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently until the relish thickens and clears. 
  7. Transfer the sweet zucchini relish into a hot, sterilized pint Mason jar (heat the jar and lid in the oven for five minutes).
  8. Wipe the jar clean and seal with the still-hot lid and ring.

Braiding Isn't Just For Hair

Native to central Asia, garlic is one of the world’s oldest cultivated plants. Throughout history, it has been cherished in many cultures for its culinary and medicinal uses. The sulfur compounds in garlic are especially beneficial, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is also a great source of calcium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. Its bold, aromatic flavor is guaranteed to transform any meal, and soon, my taste buds will be thanking me, because the garlic from our garden is ready!

Once Mollica and I saw the tops of the bulbs start to emerge, we dug around the sides of the bulbs to loosen them up, avoiding the roots to prevent damage to the garlic.

We brought them to the kitchen and washed off the dirt.

Now onto the fun part—braiding the garlic. Using six at a time, I braided in pairs, starting at the bulbs and making my way down to the ends.

Ever the resourceful person, Mollica attached the braided garlic to a clothes hanger and hung it from the kitchen arch. Once the garlic is dry, I'll try to restrain myself from using it in everything!
 
For further information about Better Farm's Sustainability Education Program, click here.

New Partnership Brings Fresh Produce to Redwood Food Pantry

The belles of Better Farm transport Redwood's Community Greenhouse to its new home.
A new partnership has turned the Redwood Community Greenhouse into a produce operation that will supply fresh greens and veggies to the Redwood Food Pantry.

Local organizations Hearts for Youth, Redwood Neighborhood Association, and Better Farm have teamed up to provide volunteer hours that will cultivate fresh, organic produce earmarked specifically for use by the Redwood Food Pantry in order to provide local residents with healthy, local food.
Redwood Community Greenhouse.
To that end, the Community Greenhouse has been relocated to Better Farm in order to receive the round-the-clock attention and watering a summer greenhouse requires; while also taking advantage of the extended growing season a greenhouse can provide. In the greenhouse's former home along Route 37 in downtown Redwood, raised beds have been constructed for public use. Now a community garden, it is the hope of these partnered organizations that people within the hamlet who do not have access to a garden will take advantage of the Redwood Community Garden to grow veggies from corn to broccoli.
Xuan Du and Kathryn Mollica fill raised beds in Redwood's Community Garden.
For more information or to volunteer at the greenhouse or community garden, call (315) 482-2536 or email info@betterfarm.org.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Wild Plant Foraging: Ramps

Allium tricoccum, otherwise known as ramps or wild leeks.
Wild leek season is upon us! The Allium tricoccum (otherwise known as ramps, spring onions, ramson, wild leeks, wood leeks, or wild garlic), is a wild onion that appears in early spring across much of the eastern United States and Canada. Ridiculously yummy and easy to prepare, ramps are a growing favorite among chefs in restaurants—and this weekend you can enjoy some of ours on the Mother's Day menu at Bella's in Clayton!

The broad, bright leaves on wild leeks make them easy to spot along hillsides in wooded, rocky areas:
A grove of wild leeks.
A group of foragers took to the woods yesterday to harvest more than 20 pounds of the tiny delicacy, which goes great in soups, on salads, in flat breads, or pickled and canned.



Here's the bounty, which will be part of this week's CSA:

A pound of wild leeks will cost consumers, on average, between $9 and $20 with leaves and roots on:

But you can get wild leeks from us for just $4/pound (while supplies last!):
To enroll in Better Farm's CSA program, click here. Many thanks to the Tulley family for allowing us to forage in their woods!
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

What's Growing at Better Farm

Seedlings and seeds enjoy some fresh air on (yet another) rainy spring day.
In spite of the perpetually crummy weather outside, spring is upon us at Better Farm. Asparagus, chives, garlic, leeks, strawberries, raspberries, peach and fig trees, and many many more plants and herbs throughout the gardens have been waking up each day and spreading new, green leaves. Inside, seeds are sprouting every day and we're getting regular shipments of new exotics like dwarf pineapple trees, coffee plants, and Mediterranean olive trees.



With evenings just starting to offer the sustained warmth necessary to harden seedlings off in the greenhouse, we've been getting the babies ready for the great outdoors by exposing them to the elements during daylight hours on the back deck. This late season hasn't reaked any havoc yet in regard to the health of our preemies—but it has certainly been inconvenient! Usually by this time of year, all the plants are living full-time in the greenhouse, potatoes are in the ground, and we're starting in on onions. Regardless; here are some photos of all the activity afoot:
Asparagus heads poke up out of the wet soil out back.
Tomato seedlings reach for the sky.
A preview of what's to come: eggplant, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, and cauliflower make their grand entrances.

Our CSA begins today; but there are still spaces left if you'd like to sign up for weekly shares of fresh produce throughout the season. We also offer amended CSAs to those who are only in the North Country on weekends; or those who would like a bulk rate on what's in-season but can't commit to a weekly pickup. Our updated list of produce this season:


Vegetables (all organic)
Artichoke—Imperial Star Organic
Asparagus
Beans—Black Coco, Monachelle di Trevio, Envy Soya, Garbanzo, Great Northern
Beets—Lutz Green Leaf
Broccoli— Belstar
Brussel Sprouts—Royal Marvel Hybrid
Cabbage—Derby Day
Carrots—Purple Haze Hybrid, Rainbow Blend, Yaya Hybrid
Cauliflower—Veronica Hybrid
Celery—Redventur
Corn—Northern Xtra-Sweet Yellow
Cucumber—Lemon
Eggplant— Rosa Bianca, Japanese White Egg
Kale—Red Russian
Leeks— Giant Musselburgh
Lettuce—Buttercrunch, Sunset
Okra
Onions— Yellow Sweet Spanish
Peanuts—Jumbo Virginia,
Peas—Little Marvel Shell Pea
Peppers—Green California Wonder, Italian Sweet Red
Potato—Yukon Gold, Red, Sweet
Pumpkin—Shishigatani/Toonas Makino, Connecticut Field
Quinoa—Shelly
Radish—Pink Beauty
Rosemary
Swiss Chard - Bright Lights
Soybean
Squash— Thelma Sanders' Sweet Potato, Crookneck-Early Golden Summer, Caserta Zucchini, White Bush Scallop, Argonaut Hybrid Butternut, Black Beauty Zucchini
String Beans—Compass Bush Bean
Tomatoes—Ananas Noire, Purple Calabash, Better Farm heirlooms
Watermelon—Sugar Baby

Fruits and Trees
Apple
Apricot
Dwarf Banana (indoor)
Blueberry
Catalpa
Cherry
3-in-1 Citrus (indoor)
Coffee Plant
Fig
Kiwi
Mediterranean Olive (indoor)
Peach
Dwarf Pineapple (indoor)
Raspberry
Strawberries

Herbs
Basil—Large-Leaf Italian Basil, Lime
Borage—Blue
Chives
Cilantro
Dill
Garlic
Lemon Balm
Mint
Nasturtium—Mixed Dwarf Jewel
Parsley
Ramps/Wild Leeks
Rosemary
Sage
Salad greens—various

Flowers
Mammoth Gray Stripe Sunflower
Kochia Scoparia Grass
25 Giant Allium
“Red Sun” Sunflower
Various wildflowers

To join Better Farm's CSA and enjoy a weekly share of fresh produce all season long, please email info@betterfarm.org or visit www.betterfarm.org/csa.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Tidy Trellises

Squash trellis image from Pinterest.
Some of the most cluttered plants to grow in the garden are squashes, tomatoes, pole beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, and watermelons. With all their vines, fruits, and leaves, it can be hard to see exactly what's going on—and can make treacherous work of so much as navigating your way through your garden.

Trellises solve this problem completely by taking these plants up off of the ground. Even for heavier plants like hubbard squash and pumpkins, low trellises at least provide a guide for vines so they're not just tangled piles on your garden floor.

Below are instructions for trellis construction (gleaned from the amazing Instructables site); you can modify the height of the trellis as your needs require.
The hoop house was about $100 in materials (all purchased from a big box store), which certainly seems like a lot, but this thing is BIG!  It's about 7' wide, 10' long, and 7' high.  The materials used in this project are weather resistant, UV resistant, and rust resistant which means it can be left in place for years, and the fencing material allows a great deal of light to hit the ground allowing for ground crops if vines aren't desired one season or another.  Additionally, shade cloth can be attached to the hoops to prevent burning for any crops that don't particularly love full sun in certain climates.

The goal of this project was to create a trellis that is sturdy and inexpensive for the amount of crops that can be grown and that allows a lot of air flow, sunlight, and easy access for picking fruit and maneuvering the vines.  Although we did this for tomatoes, this trellis isn't limited to that particular crop.  Just imagine this thing covered in cucumbers and sweet peas!

Materials:
  • 1 1/4"x10' UV resistant electrical pvc pipe (x3) 
  • 3/4"x10' UV resistant electrical pvc pipe with connectable ends (x10) 
  • PVC plumbing adhesive  
  • 3'x50' Galvanized welded wire fence (x2)
  • Pack of rebar ties
Tools:
  • Measuring tape 
  • String
  • Saw
  • Wire cutters
  • Gloves
  • Sledge hammer
  • Scrap piece of 2x4
Method:
  1. Prep the soil for growing your crop. 
  2. Glue 2 lengths of the 3/4" pipe together (repeat 4 more times to get five 20' long pipes) and allow to cure for 24 hours. 
  3. Cut the 1 1/4" pipe to 2 1/2' lengths. 
  4. Measure a 10' by 7' area and create line guides making sure to square the corners. 
  5. At 2' intervals along the long side of the measured area, pound the 1 1/4" pipe into the ground using a piece of 2x4 for cushioning so as not to damage the pipe.
  6. Insert the 3/4" pipe into the 1 1/4" pipes creating the hoop. 
  7. Span the wire fence over the hoops and attach the fence to the pipe using rebar ties. 
  8. Plant your vegetables or ornamentals or whatever!  Have fun and enjoy!
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Better Farm's First-Ever CSA Program

An afternoon harvest from last fall.
Better Farm' s Community-Supported Agriculture program is designed to bring individuals and families living locally weekly shares of fresh produce from Better Farm's gardens at extremely affordable rates.

Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSAs, allow individuals or families to have direct access to high-quality, fresh produce grown locally. When you join a CSA, you're buying a “share” of produce from a particular farm or group of farms. Better Farm's CSA runs weekly from May 1 through the end of November, about 31 weeks. CSA members can visit Better Farm on a weekly basis to pick up their shares of produce. CSA members pay for the entire season of produce up-front. This early bulk payment allows Better Farm to plan for the season, purchase garden supplies and seeds to ensure a productive yield, and more.

Weekly share amounts fluctuate in accordance with what is in-season. In May, a share may only consist of some salad greens and asparagus; while a share in October will include artichokes, tomatoes, greens, herbs, Swiss chard, potatoes, flowers, pumpkins, leeks, and much much more.

Typically, seasonal CSA costs are between $400 and $600 for an individual. Because Better Farm's goal is to increase access to delicious, organic, healthy food, the first year of this CSA program is available at rock-bottom rates:

These rates represent a a full 31-week program:
  • $250/individual (roughly $8/week)
  • $450/couple (roughly $14.50/week)
  • $800/family of four (roughly $25/week)
CSA members will be notified of additional add-on opportunities (meat, eggs, cheese, soaps, baked goods, etc.) should these become available throughout the season; and may opt in to hear about food-related activities held at Better Farm throughout the year (supper clubs, farm-to-table events, workshops).

Click here for a list of the organic produce we are growing at Better Farm in 2014. Please note that this does not necessarily indicate produce you will receive (in some cases, certain plants do better than others based on weather, pests, etc.).

If you would like to sign up for Better Farm's CSA, send an email to info@betterfarm.org with the below information and we will bill you through Paypal (additional Paypal fees will apply). Or, you can print out the below form and mail it us along with a check made out to Better Farm. Those of you with special scheduling needs may contact us for a prorated CSA plan.

Mail to: Better Farm CSA Program, 31060 Cottage Hill Road, Redwood NY, 13679.

Name: ___________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________

Phone Number: ___________________________________

Email: __________________________________________

CSA Membership Level (About 31 weeks starting May 1):   
  • ______$100 Summer Weekender (weekends only June 1-Sept. 1)
  • _____  $150 Weekender (weekends only May 1-mid-November
  • ______$250/individual (roughly $8/week) 
  • _____$450/couple (roughly $14.50/week) 
  • _____$800/family of four (roughly $25/week)
Preferred Day for Weekly Pickup: _________________
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Delivery CSA Coming to the North Country?

Image from Etsy.
Better Farm is in the process of outlining a grant that would provide the sustainability campus with start-up funding from SARE to create a network of farms providing a delivery CSA to residents living in the region, and is looking for local farms interested in participating in the proposed programming.


The Northeast Chapter of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) is offering partnership grants to agricultural agencies, organizations, businesses, or local governments working directly with farmers to address issues that affect the farm community. Farmers must be partners in the planning process and the proposal. SARE funds production, marketing, on-farm demonstrations, and community development efforts that address key themes in sustainable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is understood to be agriculture that is profitable, environmentally sound, provides a good quality of life for farmers, and is beneficial to the community.

To that end, Better Farm is seeking local farms to partner with for the following proposal:

Better Farm plans to increase access to fresh, locally produced foods for community residents in and
around Redwood, N.Y., while strengthening farmer-consumer relationships and supporting local agriculture by creating a delivery CSA service to people living locally. Community-Supported Agriculture programs provide weekly stipends of fresh food to a community; Better Farm enhances this programming by bringing fresh fruits, vegetables, jams, syrup, meats, cheeses, eggs, and milk from a variety of local farms directly to neighbors' doors. Better Farm would act as liaison between individuals, families, and farmers; creating the network of farmers necessary to provide people with a diverse assortment of weekly groceries for a low rate. Redwood is a small community of 500 people with limited access to food. Shopping at a grocery store in Alexandria Bay is a 20-mile round trip; Watertown a 50-mile round trip. Funding would allow Better Farm to coordinate with local farms and families, create inventory lists and price sheets, convert a diesel truck to run off refined vegetable oil thereby eliminating gas costs, and put the program into its first year of production. With EBT cards now accepted at farmers' markets and farm stands, this programming encourages even those with the lowest incomes to purchase local food at a premium rate. 

How It Works
This is a buy-in program. In its first phase, Better Farm partners with local farmers interested in selling their goods at a bulk rate to individuals and families living locally. Those farms provide Better Farm with available products and bulk rates, along with seasonal information. Then, Better Farm will disseminate information via radio, print, online, and mailers to homes in the community alerting them to this available program. Signing people up will involve educational workshops, greeting people at their homes, calling campaigns, and public seminars. Individual and family seasonal rates will be available, as well as tiers:
  • Vegetarian (with or without packaged goods, checking all that apply: maple syrup, jams/jellies, lotions/salves, fibers/yarns, dairy products, eggs)
  • Omnivorous (with or without packaged goods, checking all that apply: maple syrup, jams/jellies, lotions/salves, fibers/yarns, dairy products, eggs)
Rates will include fees to cover all-inclusive delivery fee (driver rate, basic maintenance of delivery vehicle, fees due to participating farms, and overhead costs for future marketing efforts) and will be payable via EBT card, check, credit card, or through monthly or weekly installments.

Interested participants will be given a survey at the beginning of each season to go over their expectations, what products they would be interested in purchasing, and their budgets. A similar survey will be distributed at the end of each season to gauge customer satisfaction with products received, chances of having return customers, and suggestions for improvements.

What It Does
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Better CSA solves the problem of a food desert in several ways. One, it creates a network of local farmers offering a variety of goods at competitive rates. Two, it creates a network of buyers that can then purchase food at a bulk rate. Three, it uses a “green” vehicle (a diesel pickup truck converted to run on spent vegetable oil) to deliver the food to people's doorsteps, reducing their fuel costs and amount of time spent grocery shopping.

This project enhances sustainability in the following ways:
  • Reducing pollution from vehicles going to and from several supermarkets to get groceries
  • Reducing pollution associated with the import-export of produce, meat, dairy products, and eggs
  • Shifting demand from large-scale agricultural practices to more sustainable, family operations
  • Encouraging local farmers to employ sustainable, organic practices
  • Encouraging consumers to eat more nutritious food that sustains healthy lifestyles in the long-term
  • Educating children (and adults!) in the community to make healthier food choices and to enjoy a larger diversity of products in their diets
 Farmers interested in partnering with Better Farm on this project should email nicole.caldwell@betterfarm.org.
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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.