Saturday, April 23, 2005

Farmland Preservation

The hoop house at Meadowlark Farm (a Leelanau County CSA)yesterday.

One of the less obvious reasons for a shortfall in the county budget is our lack of success in the area of farmland preservation. When farmland is converted to housing, more taxes are collected, but the services demanded by those new residents (police protection, snow plowing, etc.) cost more than the taxes that are being collected. Paying a little bit now for the Farmland Preservation Program could pay off in lower property taxes in the future, even if you don't appreciate the aethetics of farming and farm products.

In the future you may appreciate someting to eat. A global economy is lots of fun now, but I wonder what will happen when we have paved over our nations's breadbasket and the rest of the world is tired of lending us money to buy goods, including food, from overseas. A nation that has been "ordering takeout" every night will suddenly have to figure out how to fix food at home.

My favorite strategy for farmland preservation is to support local farmers by buying and appreciating their products. The photo above is up at Meadowlark Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA)farm. Although Jon and Jenny sell their flowers and salad greens through local grocries, the backbone of their operation is the "shareholder" system. Subscribers pay an upfront fee at the beginning of each growing season and then each week through the harvest season they receive a large box of fresh food and flowers, whatever was in its prime that week. Jenny describes their offer:
We offer half shares for $315 and full shares for $550. A half share is meant to feed two big veggie eaters , a full share is meant to feed four eaters. Our veggie season runs from early June into October with other share options as well: a flower share $150, fruit share(small berries)$100, winter share $150. Our veggie share includes any veggie you could imagine with the "staples"(washed salad greens come every week, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and broccoli) coming as regularly as possible.
Their traditional season was June through October but the hoop houses, new last winter, have enabled them to offer a Winter Share of tender, fresh greens. They harvested greens until Christmas, left the plants in the ground during the cold, short daylength months, and then did their first spring harvest around March 15th.

The spinach from that March 15th cutting was wonderful. Another neighbor had been buying those fancy organic greens that are shipped in plastic boxes from who-knows-where. She complained that they "just tasted old". She thought there was something wrong with her taste buds. When we tasted the fresh local Spinach in March, we knew that there was nothing wrong with her palate. Fresh and local just tastes better.

Here is an older article about Meadowlark Farm. For information on subscribing to their fresh local food, email Jenny at or call 231-256-6980.

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