By AMBER FUA
In today’s world of instant, processed and genetically modified food, the concept of purity almost seems to be completely forgotten. Grocery store fruits and vegetables that are not grown locally fail to fulfill the ever-growing demand for truly fresh produce.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, such as the one in Fredericksburg, focus on food purity as seen through their dedication to biological farming.
The Fredericksburg Area Community Supported Agriculture Project (FACSAP), founded by Fredericksburg architect Stavroula Conrad, is in its 16th year of operation.
With its motto “wholesome food for a whole community, “ it supports small family as well as multi-market family farms throughout the region, which in turn provide the community with shares of produce.
The 5 farms associated with FACSAP are Green Thumb Growers in Fredericksburg, Virginia Green Grocer in Warrenton, Rock Run Creek Farm in Fauquier County and Zen Farm Apiary and Canning Farm in King George County.
As outlined in their 2012 prospectus, the FACSAP growers are committed to the national organic standard “being either Certified Organic or Certified Naturally Grown.”
After purchasing shares of food in advance at about $660 per share, members of FACSAP wait for “Harvest Season,” which begins at the end of May and ends 20 weeks later in early October.
Many growers are available for questions and general conversation on these days, and everyone is welcome to stay to chat, picnic and enjoy the community.
Every Thursday throughout the 20 weeks of the Harvest Season, FACSAP members meet in downtown Fredericksburg at Hurkamp Park from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
FACSAP attracts people from neighboring communities at these Thursday pickups, bringing “groups of people together once a week for 20 weeks. All common mind, common body, who want to feed their families,” said Leslie Leahy, FACSAP secretary and UMW Study Abroad Coordinator.
Some of Leahy’s favorite distributed foods include lettuce, okra, greens and beets – which she recently became a big fan of due to FACSAP.
Members do not get to choose what foods they receive each week.
Because of this, sometimes the discovery is made that they actually like foods they used to dislike, because the taste completely differs from the food’s grocery-bought counterparts.
Cinde Hoffman, mother of three, finds that because of FACSAP’s freshness and diversity, her children consume “many more vegetables.”
Hoffman addresses FACSAP’s import role in “trying to teach the next generation about all of the different types of food,” because a variety of truly fresh food is not usually “something you’re going to find in the grocery store.”
Due to the plethora of different foods distributed each week, FACSAP also offers many resources such as different links to recipes and information about various seasonal produce cookbooks.
The portions are rather hearty, so if anyone is considering purchasing shares for the 2013 Harvest Season, Leahy recommends, “splitting a share, just to kind of be a part of this movement.”
FACSAP is always a “new adventure meeting new people,” said Hoffman, “Distribution is easy, it’s fun and the people are nice.”
Though the 2012 Harvest Season payments are already underway, it is never too soon to consider the Fredericksburg Area Community Supported Agriculture Project for next year.
Shares for 2012 will begin distribution on May 24th.