ASAP’s Annual CSA Fair is just around the corner on March 12 (in Asheville) and March 17 (in Boone), and in anticipation of the event, we wanted to hear from farms and participants who have been part of our CSA fairs in the past. This week, we bring you an interview with CSA Farmers, Chrisan and Fenner Klak, of Blue Meadow Farms. Visit ASAP’s website to find out more about the CSA Fairs.
Why did you become farmers?
We became farmers because we’ve always enjoyed working outside, growing plants, and knowing where our food was coming from. When the opportunity came along to be involved in starting a farm, we went for it. It was our chance to improve the land and the soil of the property, while also knowing we could promote healthy lifestyles in the area. We feel being at the root of the food system is a good way to start changing the food system.
What is your farm operation like?
Currently we’re farming on 6 acres utilizing crop rotation and organic practices, though we’re uncertified at the moment. We grow a variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs in the spring, summer, fall, and a little bit in the winter. Right now, we have three high tunnels, with another one on the way, and a greenhouse that we’re almost finished with. These tunnels help us extend our growing season. We sell at four farmers markets, sell to restaurants, and operate a CSA.
What are your favorite things about farming?
Knowing where your food comes from is important to us, so growing a tiny seedling to its full potential still amazes us every time we harvest. Every spring when we see our seedlings popping up all over the property, it makes us feel like we’re doing something important. We’re bringing food to life and sharing it with this community. It really makes you feel important when you’re weeding endless rows of carrots!
We also love being able to snack on large amounts of strawberries and cherry tomatoes while we’re harvesting. We really love food, so growing the varieties we know tastes great is a plus for us and for our customers.
Then there’s the people you get to meet and the friendships you make. The interactions with our customers and the community are invaluable to us. We spend so many hours at the farm by ourselves, so socializing and meeting new people who are like minded is such a breath of fresh air.
What are your biggest challenges?
Farming is a big challenge itself. You have the weather, pests, and diseases going up against you. But for us, I think weather and time is our biggest challenge. When a big rainstorm hits and there’s still few rows left to be seeded, weeded, or harvested, there’s nothing you can do but wait it out. There never seems to be enough hours in the day. In addition to that, having enough help around the farm has been tough too. In the past it’s just been the two of us, Fenner’s dad, and maybe one or two part-time workers. Thankfully, we plan on hiring at least four workers this year to assist with all the work we have planned for the season.
What is your favorite vegetable or local food dish, and why?
That’s a tough question! Can we give you an answer for each season? For spring, strawberries! The sweetness that our strawberries have is one a grocery store berry can’t compete with! For summer, heirloom tomatoes for sure. There’s nothing like a perfectly ripened juicy heirloom tomato. The first bruschetta of the season with local bread is the best. It’s so easy too! You just chop tomatoes, sprinkle some salt to release some of the juices, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then you add some of our chopped basil and olive oil. Then in a cast iron skillet, you toast your bread in butter. Once the bread is toasted, you rub garlic all over the surface of the bread and top it with the bruschetta.
For fall, carrots! For winter, over-wintered spinach. It gets this honey-like sweetness from the frost that spring spinach can never get.
Why is the CSA important to your farm business?
The CSA is integral to our farm. We get to share our season’s harvest with a community that trusts us enough to give us their money at the start of the season. Funding up front also helps us pay for farm supplies and seeds that will eventually lead to all the great produce later in the season. Without CSAs, we wouldn’t have that strong network of customers who support us year after year.
What reasons would you share about why folks should attend the CSA Fair?
Unlike signing up online and just mailing in the shares, customers can meet us face to face and know who their farmers will be. We like to know who we’re feeding throughout the year, so it’s nice to put a face and personality to the share. We talk to our customers on a weekly basis, so it’s important to have a relationship with them.
Also, if someone doesn’t know what they’re looking for, the fair gives them more of an informative selection, so you get more than just a webpage.
What impact has ASAP had on your farm?
ASAP runs Asheville City Market South and that was our first farmers market we started attending. In addition, the CSA Fair planned by ASAP has been really helpful in getting us more members each year. There’s also the local food guide and that’s been a great resource for us. ASAP overall has been invaluable to us. It has helped us build a business and a network of great customers.
To find out more about Blue Meadow Farms or their CSA visit their website.Tags:ASAP's CSA Fair, Blue Meadow Farms