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Farm to Table CSA season kicks off 

Over the last few weeks, Sarahlee Lawrence has been cutting up fifteen varieties of potatoes.

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Over the last few weeks, Sarahlee Lawrence has been cutting up fifteen varieties of potatoes. She has pink ones, purple ones, blue ones and the standard run-of-the-mill white spuds. She's so excited about planting these bits of root vegetables for this year's harvest that her voice quickens.

"We've got the full gamut of vegetables from early greens to pumpkins," Lawrence says. "It's going to be quite the experience."

This may be an understatement for Lawrence as this is her first season running a CSA . Last year she tended and harvested a test garden on her family's 30-year-old farm, Lawrence Farm in Terrebonne, but this year she's growing three acres and two greenhouses worth of vegetables and flowers for her garden called Rainbow Organics. All season long, Lawrence will put together baskets of veggies and flowers for her CSA members and sell the remaining produce at the Northwest Crossing farmer's market. In addition, members are invited to tour her farm and participate in events such as a canning day.

CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is a buzz term that has gained growing popularity over the past few years. For a few hundred dollars, families or individuals can sign up to receive a weekly bounty of a farm's best produce (as well as flowers, meat and eggs on some farms) from mid-spring until late fall. Many of Central Oregon's farmers meet weekly to discuss farming techniques, share tips and just hang out. "We get together and have potlucks," says Jerre Kosta Dodson of Dancing Cow Farm in Prineville. "It's a really good community."

Although Central Oregon's persistently frosty nights and searing hot summer days pose their share of challenges, local farmers are growing hundreds of varieties of vegetables, from lettuces and tomatoes to cucumbers and watermelons.

"I think there is a misconception about the diversity of food that we can grow here," says Gigi Meyer of Windflower Farm in Bend. "There are actually very few varieties of veggies that we can't grow. I grow tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers in the greenhouses - you'd never know they were grown in this high [elevation]."

While receiving fresh local produce is an obvious benefit of joining a CSA, there are many more advantages for farmers and members alike. In addition to keeping your carbon footprint low and supporting local businesses, the springtime membership fees help farmers finance the front end of their growing season, when they need the most financial support. "The CSA allows the farmer to buy seed and pay [staff]," says Dodson, who notes that extra help is needed during springtime for planting and preparation.

The farmers are also assured that they will have customers every week. "Knowing you have people to feed is really wonderful, especially when you're growing something like a vegetable that is very perishable," says Lawrence. "Knowing you have people who are going to eat your vegetables is a real blessing."

However, for many farmers, the real reward is the relationship built between the farm and the community.

"The best part is sharing in the joy of the community," says Kim Kambak from The Last Stand Farm in Prineville. "Of course I love it that people want to be part of a CSA, but I also love it that they learn how to garden themselves. That's what sustainability is - learning to provide for oneself in community," Kambak says.

Central Oregon CSAs

Paradise Farm, Bend

$25 wk/$100 month/$800 for 8 months

Pickup: Paradise Produce - 30 SW Century Drive


Plainview Farms, Bend

$25 wk/$100 month/$800 for 8 months

Pickup: Paradise Produce - 30 SW Century Drive


Big Star Farm, Bend

$550 per season

Pickup: Downtown


Dancing Cow Farm, Prineville

$484 to $550 per season

Pickup: Bend, Prineville, Redmond,
Powell Butte, Terrebonne


Fields Farm, Bend

$600 per season

Pickup: Downtown

The Last Stand Farm, Prineville

$550 per season, $638 with eggs

Pickup: Prineville and downtown


Rainshadow Organics, Terrebonne

$600 per season

Pickup: Downtown, Sisters,
Terrebonne, Redmond


Windflower Farm, Bend

$675 per season.

Pickup: Downtown and home delivery



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