By Terrah Baker
It’s Food Insecurity Awareness month, and to celebrate Jesse Napolitano and his family are spreading awareness of their newly created independent CSA — Community Supported Agriculture. Making a full-time job of farming isn’t easy, and takes community support, which is exactly what a CSA can offer Brannon Mountain Farm.
Like other CSAs, “investors” pay a set price up front to buy a stake in the farm. For this, they get food delivered to a central location or their home once a week for a decided period of time — in this case nine weeks per season. The delivery and its contents vary with each farm as it is all locally grown and produced. But if you take Napolitano’s farm as an example, buyers eat well, local and for less than what you would pay at a health food or grocery store.
“We’re a family farm with the farm being our only source of income, and there’s only a handful of people [locally] who are doing it full time,” Napolitano said. “We didn’t earn a lot of money for the first couple of years, but now we’re able to make a good living.”
Napolitano’s close to two-acre farm in Northwest Arkansas provides vegetables, fruits and eggs during most of the year thanks to season extending practices. Last season, he was one of the first to offer potatoes, several months before other farmers. His full-time attention to the farm has also allowed him to grow things other farms haven’t, like Asian persimmons, pomegranates and jujubes. All of which would come in the bag delivered to individuals that become a part of the spring and summer CSA.
Andi-K Heart is an independent businesswoman who has started serving as an outreach coordinator, trying to educate people about the farm, their holistic methods and the benefits of joining the CSA. She said when she visited the farm, the children sang to the plants and everything looked green, healthy and full of life.
She said she has been impressed with the farming methods and the abundance of the harvest with such positive attention from the family.
“We’re certified naturally grown, so we grow with no herbicides or pesticides. We stick by the same stringent standards as the certified organic products, and we’re very diverse,” Napolitano said.
Diversity is a benefit for both the consumer and the environment as it allows farmers to grow without harmful chemicals through companion planting and other sustainable methods.
Napolitano’s farm currently has a winter CSA that costs $120 to join, and will have a spring and summer CSA. For more information about joining the CSA or Brannon Mountain farm, contact Andi-K Heart at 479-713-9074.
What Came In Last Week’s CSA Bag: