10-26-11-letter-to-editor-produce.jpgHeads up, everyone! We have an opportunity here.

The N.C. Farm Center, Cumberland Co. Extension Service and Sustainable Sandhills have banded together to test the market for a CSA (Community S

upported Agricultural) project.The All American Home Grown organization will allow all you city-folk to place orders for all your favorite seasonal fruits and veggies and get them delivered from your local farmers right to your table.

Watermelon, blueberries, asparagus, squash, okra, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe — getting hungry yet? Maybe throw in the availability of local honey, fresh eggs and flowers.

The “farm to table” co-ops exist in our neighboring counties. Farm2Table in Moore County has 800 members and SE Feast is supplying the chefs in Myrtle Beach. Cumberland County certainly has citizens with sophisticated and varied tastes as recently proved again with the International Folk Festival. Now it’s your turn here in Fayetteville to buy truly fresh produce directly from the farmer — if we get enough support.

The All American Home Grown will expand the market and support local farmers who will plant to meet your culinary desires. And the variety of fresh produce you receive is truly fresh — not having traveled the roads to sit in genetically altered states to preserve the “shelf life.”

This last summer the N.C. Farm Center donated melons and squash to Second Harvest. I was shocked to learn it was the first time the churches had fresh produce to deliver. Children attending school also had “surprises” (watermelon and cantaloupe) in their school “Buddy Packs.”  This is just an anecdote to get the word out that we still have a ways to go on nutrition.

So here’s the plan: A family or organization enrolls to receive a box of produce that usually contains a variety of five seasonal fruits and vegetables. The average cost is around $25 — about what I paid for four fresh tomatoes last summer.

A subscriber is not required to take a box every week and some subscribers (i.e. the local hospital) can often order 18 boxes. If there are more “goodies” than you can use, share it with your family members, neighbors or have a dinner party featuring interesting new recipes (usually provided in your box along with the produce).

But, we need your opinion — and it is easyto give.

Go to www.sustainablesandhills.org.

Click on the Cumberland Co. Food Survey (left hand side of the page).

I wonder how many of you know that all of that produce is available locally and that those were the growing seasons. It’s interesting and fun.

Once we compile 500 surveys we can begin to work with the local farmers to set aside acreage to meet those consumer desires. And I promise you we will print the survey results on the top three seasonal favorites and what else you would like to find in your boxes.

So let’s get to it. Spring is coming! And we are a community that should support All American Home Grown.

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