The way people grow, buy and consume food is ever-changing, lately shifting toward not only healthier choices but also local options. For years Athens has been a regional leader in offering a market for local and sustainable food. Savanna Osborn, director of Collective Harvest, observed the people of Athens as “caring, intelligent, and motivated.” In her opinion, “this perfect storm of values and characteristics is what helps local businesses thrive. Collective Harvest benefits from these people who care about what they put in their body and who they support and they recognize that their dollar is a vote for local, seasonal produce.”
Collective Harvest is Athens’ local CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture. It consists of five farms: Front Field, Full Moon, Diamond Hill, Hickory Hill and Cedar Grove, who all met and began to collaborate while selling individually at the Athens Farmers Market. They started collaborating in 2012 and today have a supportive relationship as they grow healthy, fresh and clean produce for the Athens area. “We aren’t competing, we are all coming together,” explained Iwalani Farfour, owner of Full Moon Farm. “We all face the same problems and no one has an advantage, so we get to work together.”
CSAs offer benefits for both the involved farmers and the communities that they serve. “The CSA model is very beneficial to the farmer in that you get your money upfront and that helps with seed cost before you start to plant,” explained Farfour. “It is also awesome to direct market to the consumer; to see and meet them when they come to pick up, it’s a great way to sell our food and market it.” As is the consumer, the benefits of affordable, local produce are priceless.
However, the benefits do not stop there. According to Farfour, being a part of the CSA connects you, as the consumer, to the farmer; you know exactly where your food is coming from and how it is being harvested. This direct relationship brings advice on the best ways to prepare different types of produce and a learning experience for the consumer about seasonality and what kinds of food can be grown right here in the state. “I enjoy watching people when they get something they are not familiar with, like a white turnip, and then learning how to eat it and ways to cook it,” said Jacqui Coburn, owner of Front Field Farm.
The CSA provides fresh produce and it also provides an awareness of our surroundings, “as farmers we are really connected to the weather that we make sure our customers know its been really rainy or really cold and this is how it affects all of our lives. People have lost touch with how the basic elements affect your life, we bring that back to you and teach you how that works around you and affects your food,” explained Farfour.
It is no oversight that these farmers have chosen to grow in Athens. “We moved here to specifically farm in Athens,” Farfour said. “What we liked about it was that it has a long season and an up and coming market. We have the chance to sell our products here which meant that the people of this town understand the quality of that.” This understanding is exactly what fuels the purpose behind Collective Harvest:“It is our mission to provide delicious, high-quality produce, because we care about food, farming, our environment and of course our neighbors,” said Osborn, “A CSA is beneficial for farmers and community members, we are so thankful at Collective Harvest to live in a community that is committed to their local farmers.”
As a CSA member, you have the chance to visit the farm, split a share with your friends, and conveniently pick up your food as if you were swinging by the grocery store because of their four pickup locations including Barber St. and Watkinsville. Collective Harvest brings produce right to your backyard. The spring CSA share sign-up is currently open with limited space, and you don’t want to miss a chance to enjoy your own portion of the food being grown in and for the Athens community. Sign up for your own CSA share from Collective Harvest here.