Every Tuesday, Sylvania resident Amy Ormsey picks up her bushel bag of mixed vegetables form the Gust Brother’s Farm stand at the Sylvania’s downtown market.
For $375, her family receive various in-season vegetables, picked that morning. For $31.25 a week, the Ormsey family has enough vegetables from kale to squash to feed the five-member family.
This week’s supply brought them broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yellow zucchini, summer squash, and green beans, just to name a few.
The arrangement is called community supported agriculture, where people subscribe for the right to buy fresh produce and other products from nearby farmers.
Part of the exchange of dealing directly with the brothers of Gust Farms in Ottawa Lake, Mich., which has been in the Gust family for 100 years, is building a strong relationship with her farmer and food producer.
“Jake Gust has knowledge about the vegetables and also gives me recipe ideas,” she said.
Participating in a monthly or seasonal subscription for the seasonal crops of a local farm has economic benefits for the farm and patrons. Such community support agriculture has a “we’re in this together” attitude, said Lauren Ketcham, communications coordinator for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association.
She explained that it helps out local farmers because they receive a payment early in the growing season when they make a bulk of their farm investments and because they have a guaranteed market for some of their products.
Subscribers for the produce feel connected to the farmer and aware of how the season’s region, weather, and soil can impact food production, she said. There are 94 such community supported agriculture programs in Ohio, she said.
There are 22 participants in the Bust Farms’ community supported agriculture program, and more than half are from Sylvania. The 12-week program began in June with customers receiving the ripe vegetables of the week. Past weeks were kale, Swiss chard, and broccoli.
The five members of the Ormsey family spend Tuesday nights learning about the latest batch of vegetables, and preparing them together. The Ormseys supplement grocery story items with locally grown food.
“It’s amazing to have my children see the plants after they’ve been pulled out of the ground,” Mrs. Ormsey said. She grew up in the country so was familiar with the origins of the food she ate. But for her children, who live in Sylvania and Toledo, had never seen a celery stalk in all its leafy splendor before, she said.
“Now they know where celery comes from and that peas don’t come from a can.” she said. For her son Adam, 14, the family ritual of cleaning and cooking the fresh food together has turned him onto produce. “He is the picky one, but since we have been in the CSA, he said the food has more flavor than what’s in the store. He’s eating more vegetables.”
The Bust Farm allows customers to come to their stand and fill either a bushel for $375 or a half-bushel for $200 with that weeks vegetables. Mr. Gust expects eggplant, onions, potatoes, and lettuce to be ripe in the next weeks.
Because each program is run different and includes different types of produce, it is hard to the cost of buying such food through the program versus going to a grocery store, Ms. Ketcham said.
Mr. Gust harvests the vegetables, which are sprayed once to save the crop from invasive insects and animals the day they are sold.
This is the first year the Gust brothers, Joe, Nate, Dave and Jake have dedicated about 1.5 acres of land on a farm that was once the home of their late grandma Marian to the food given to subscriber vegetables.
Also on the land, are two pregnant Berkshire pigs, a rare prized breed, which after they give birth will be humanely-slaughtered for pork that will be added as a meat option in the fall to the Community Supported Agriculture, Joe Gust said. Cows also are being raised for the same purpose.
For more information about Gust Farms and the Community Supported Agriculture program, visit www.gustbrothers.com