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, Sarah Jane and Jamie Davis, of A Way of Life Farm. Visit ASAP’s website to find out more about the CSA Fairs.
Why did you become farmers?
Farming is our form of activism. By producing something as universal as food, we’re able to positively influence social, environmental, and economic issues that we see in the world. We find farming with these intentions to be incredibly satisfying work. Working with a piece of land that we will be a part of for the rest of our days is humbling and endlessly interesting. We can’t imagine doing anything else.
What is your farm operation like?
We grow 40 different fruits and vegetables on 2 1/2 acres, using sustainable farming practices. Our pigs are raised on pasture and their supplemental feed is certified organic and contains no soy. All of our farm products are sold directly to customers through CSA, at farmers’ markets, and to restaurants.
What are your biggest challenges?
Our biggest challenge is maintaining a balance between short term needs and long term goals. Because we’re growing year-round, harvesting and taking produce and meat to market often takes priority over infrastructure projects and other farm development. At the same time, we know we don’t want to get stuck in “simply making a living” at the expense of accomplishing projects that will make “making a living” easier and further our permacultural vision for our farm.
What is your favorite vegetable or local food dish, and why?
Pick favorites?! That’s tough. The beauty of seasonal eating is that every vegetable is your favorite when it first comes in. Then, you can enjoy the heck out of it, until it’s about out of season. Meanwhile, other new veggies are popping out of the ground begging to be your favorite too! I will say that sweet potatoes are one of our pet vegetables. We save seed and grow several varieties which each lend themselves perfectly to different uses. They can store for a long time under the right conditions so we’re able to enjoy them longer than any other vegetable.
Why is the CSA important to your farm business?
Our CSA guarantees that a portion of our farm products are already sold, acting as a bit of insurance. Having a direct connection with CSA members, folks who are enjoying the food that we grow and feeding their children, throughout the year is thrilling and a great motivator when the days are long, hot, wet, cold, etc. We love knowing exactly where our produce is going.
What reasons would you share about why folks should attend the CSA Fair?
The CSA Fair is a great way to see your CSA options laid out for you. You can easily find the one the best fits your schedule, eating habits, and budget while talking with the farmers face to face. It’s like a one stop farm tour with many farms having plenty of pictures on display, too.
What impact has ASAP had on your farm?
ASAP has done so much to promote local food in our region from many angles. Educating consumers with the Local Food Guide, CSA Fair, and Appalachian Grown™ labeling has built a general awareness and support of local food which creates demand for our products. ASAP has also helped our farm with educational workshops and grant funding.A Way of Life Farm, Appalachian Grown, ASAP's CSA Fair, CSA