The Garden Club
The Native Roots Market Garden Club began in 2010 as our most ambitious project yet to improve the availability and accessibility of local foods directly to consumers. Garden Club functions much like a CSA (Community Supported
Agriculture) program; Participants pay upfront for a season of produce from a local farm and each week pick up bag full of
the weeks harvest.
Partnering with one nearby farm, High Tides & Green Fields, in the first year; we wanted to see if a small group of 30 families could support one small local farmer. What we learned is that one small farm alone can’t quite grow enough variety and sometimes the quantity neccessary to fill the bags each week. We were at the mercy of many factors beyond our control: too little rain, too much rain, a freak windstorm, etc. and when this happened we had to scramble to get produce from neighboring farms to fill the bags.
We also had many successes in our first year. The impact we made for High Tides and Green Fields was significant. Dev’s husband was able to retire from his job to be on the farm full time and revenues from Garden Club kicked off the construction of a large new greenhouse on the farm (with help from a state grant). Also, on the customer side, many of us had a blast trying new foods and recipes. We learned a lot in the first year and Garden Club 2011 will benefit greatly from these lessons.
Benefits for Farmers:
- More time to focus on growing food instead of marketing it
- Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow. Seeds and many other supplies generally have to purchased in the winter, long before the farm will have anything to sell.
Benefits for Consumers:
- Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and nutritional benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
Garden Club 2011:
In 2011, we will be working with a handful of small local farmers instead of just one. Each farm has their specialty and certain crops that they like to grow or that grow well on their particular plot of land. High Tides and Green Fields specializes in peppers and cherry tomatoes for example; they grow dozens of varieties of each in every color, size, and shape you can imagine! But they have a horrible time with squash bugs on their farm and can’t grow squash. Fortunately, one of their nearby neighbors grows beautiful squash. Other farms specialize in fruit and 2010 was a great year for the Oklahoma fruit crop. We got apples, plums, peaches, pears, apricots, figs, more variety than we’ve seen since we opened. We can never know what to expect for this year, but we believe working with several farmers will make each week’s basket plentiful!
What will be in my basket?
Each week, your Garden Club basket will be different as the growing season progresses. Some crops may only appear once, others will be available for several weeks. You should expect approximately 4-6 different items per week, generally an appropriate amount for 2-3 people. Check out our 2010 blog (right column) to see photos and recipes from last season.