Two community-supported agriculture programs in the Mancos valley will offer the option to buy vegetables, flowers, herbs, eggs and meat locally.
Stubborn Farm and Burk Beef, the Wiley Carrot and Mountain Roots Produce are starting the Mancos Valley Community Supported Agriculture program.
Laughing Wolf Farm and Kestral Farm are also going to run CSA programs this summer.
Through these programs, buyers purchase a share of the produce for the season and can pick up their veggies and other products weekly.
“It really takes a lot of the pressure off financially,” said Lee-Ann Hill, who owns Laughing Wolf Farm.
Hill has run her CSA program for three years, but this is the first season she will be working with Kestrel Farm to help complement her offerings.
Many of the farmers incur at least some debt at the beginning of the season buying supplies, and this model helps reduce that, Kellie Pettyjohn, owner of the Wiley Carrot, explained. It also gives them a sense of security that they will see sales throughout the season.
The consumer can also save some money.
“They are getting a better deal than what they would get retail for this produce,” she said.
Being a seasonal shareholder in the farm also means taking on some of the risk. If the farm experiences a catastrophe, like a damaging hail storm, there are no refunds.
Multifarm CSA programs help reduce some of that risk, however, Pettyjohn said.
Both programs plan to be fairly small this summer, offering about 20 shares each.
Mancos Valley CSA plans to offer eggs and meat in addition to vegetables for an additional fee. The farmers have seen strong demand for these products. Burk Beef has a waiting list and eggs sell out quickly at farmers markets, said Mike Nolan, owner of Mountain Roots Produce.
Laughing Wolf and Kestrel plan to offer flowers and some value-added products such as pesto to help their customers avoid being overwhelmed by produce.
Owners of both are interested in the direct connection to their customers that a CSA offers.
Pettyjohn sells wholesale through the Mancos-based Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative, but missed the personal connection with customers.
“We’re going to try to make it communal,” she said.
Her CSA plans to start a private Facebook page where customers can share recipes.
The co-op, which is a separate venture, is also launching a CSA in Durango this year.
But Hill is not concerned about competition.
“I hope we really just build some momentum and build some attention,” she said.