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Faces of Local: Melissa Harwin

Melissa Harwin and John Kunkle

ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talk with Melissa Harwin of Highgate Farm, who will be attending the Asheville CSA Fair.

For anyone who doesn’t know, how are CSAs beneficial to farmers and buyers?

The traditional CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model was conceived back in the 1960s as a way to provide capital to farmers during the part of their season when expenses are high, but income is low. Farmers face expenses such as ordering seeds and fertilizer, purchasing and repairing equipment, hiring staff, and more before the first CSA is delivered. CSA members help manage those expenses, by providing the funds to start the season. We feel honored by our members’ investment, show of faith, and willingness to join us in the risks and rewards of farming each season.

CSA Members receive a discount on the value of their share, saving anywhere from 2 to 20% off market price and they receive a great selection of the week’s harvest. They benefit from knowing where and how their food is produced, and knowing they are supporting the folks who produce it.

How is the CSA Fair important to you and the community? Does it bring more interest to your CSA?

The CSA fair brings local farmers and new CSA members together each year. The fair allows farmers to showcase their offerings and for potential members to compare programs to find their best match. A good match means a happy customer. Satisfied customers return and spread the word! Each year at the CSA fair we meet and sign up several new CSA members.

What does Highgate Farm’s CSA include? What would you like people to know about Highgate Farm and your growing practices?

Each week we carefully plan the selection of items to be packed for our CSA members, who always get first dibs on our top quality produce. Our shares include 7 to 10 varieties of beautiful, fresh produce with an average value of $35. My partner John Kunkle and I combine our love and knowledge of great food with hands-on, small scale farming to produce delicious and healthy foods to inspire the chef in all of us. We are a Certified Naturally Grown farm.  With a focus on good stewardship, we employ natural methods, and organic inputs to improve the health of the ecosystem, quality of the soil, and the vigor of our crops. We believe this is the right thing to do for people and the planet.

Does the CSA Fair help foster a valuable connection between the community and your farm? Do you have opportunities for CSA members to visit your farm or have a hands-on experience?

We love talking with and making connections with potential CSA members at the fair! It’s such a great way to share information, answer questions, and get to know one-another to ensure the right fit. During the season, our CSA Members enjoy an open-house get together and tours of the farm. We occasionally schedule work days for those who are interested.

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