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SECRETARY VISITS FLOURISHING COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE FARM
Interest in Sharing Farmers’ Crops - Growing in NJ, NationFor Immediate Release: July 20, 2009
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – For 16 weeks during the summer and into the fall on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, a steady stream of people fill baskets with the fruits -- and vegetables -- of Bob and Leda Muth’s labor. The Muth Family Farm in Williamstown is what is known as a Community Supported Agriculture Farm or CSA, in which members pay for a share of the farm’s benefits as well as the risks of food production.
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today visited the farm during a distribution and found the CSA members leaving with a variety of fruits and vegetables, enough produce to last them through the week until their next pick-up time.
“CSA members buy into a farm for the opportunity to take home just-picked produce and the chance to get to know the person who grew their food,” said Secretary Fisher. “They also are looking for the experience of coming to a farm and seeing what life is like for a farmer during production time.”
Secretary Fisher and Bob Muth inspect Muth's grape tomato crop
CSAs are growing in prominence in New Jersey and the country. For the first time, in 2007, the United States Census of Agriculture counted CSAs, finding that 81 New Jersey farms offered this type of activity. Nationwide, 12,549 farms reported they marketed their agricultural products through a CSA.
The Muth’s CSA has more than 425 members, who purchased a weekly allotment of freshly-picked produce in advance, but agreed to the risk of severe weather conditions which could result in crop loss, shortening the length of the CSA program.
Bob Muth grew up on a vegetable farm, left New Jersey after college and worked for three years as a South Carolina cooperative extension agent, before returning to his home state. He decided to start a CSA after talking to the owner of a 20-year-old Western Massachusetts CSA and patterned his after that farmer’s model. Muth’s CSA is now in its eighth year.
“It took awhile to catch on, but now every year we have shown growth,” said Muth. “We have our own loyal clientele, avoiding the ups and downs of the wholesale market.”
The CSA is certified organic, growing, perhaps, the only organic sweet corn in the state. Muth determined, once he read the criteria for organic certification, that he had been using many organic farming practices his whole life.
“My parents taught me to take care of the land like it’s a member of the family,” said Muth. “My goal is to turn the land over to the next generation better than when I took it on.”
Fisher, Muth and Gloucester County Freeholder Robert Damminger
Muth is interested in sustainability of his land as farmland, keeping the soil healthy and available to grow food for the future. Most of his CSA members live within an 8-mile radius of his farm, providing food to his neighbors and reducing food miles.
In addition, a CSA can provide its members with a wide variety of produce. The Muth Family farm grows amaranth, a Chinese spinach; purslane, a succulent herb; bok choy, a Chinese cabbage; heirloom tomatoes; uncommon varieties of many different fruits, vegetables and herbs; as well as traditional produce.
To find a community supported agriculture farm in New Jersey, visit the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey’s website at www.nofanj.org/csa.htm. For information on the Department of Agriculture’s Organic Certification Program, visit: www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/jerseyorganic.html.