“Every farm is different, and CSAs can be creative about what they do,” said James Barrett, head farmer at Bellair Farm, as he drove us through the vast acres of Bellair. “Find one that suits you.”
This year signals the third season for the Bellair Farm CSA, expanded now to 360 shares. “We won’t grow the CSA anymore,” added Barrett. “We want to keep it personal and offer a good experience for everyone when they come out to the farm.”
What is a CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a mutually beneficial relationship that supports both the farm and local community. Area CSAs allow consumers direct access to the farm where food is grown, as well as a relationship with the farm.
The Bellair Farm CSA offers farm pick-up on Saturday mornings, or a Wednesday Farmers Market at Pen Park. Each share includes vegetables you pick from the selection, a Pick-Your-Own field, and a weekly newsletter with recipes and ideas for your table. You won’t regret the 20 minute drive down 20 South to pick up your share on Saturdays, because you’ll leave with a bag full of veggies, and hand-picked jalapenos, tomatoes, berries, herbs, flowers, and more from the newly doubled in size Pick-Your-Own field!
The cost of one CSA share is $600, and runs for 22 weeks – typically the end of May to the end of October.
Q&A with James Barrett
When and why did your farm decide to participate as a CSA?
Bellair Farm CSA came about because the land owner, Ms. Cynthia Davis, wanted to start a farm enterprise on her beautiful 900 acre farm. She looked to hire a farmer to manage and start that business with her. I had been farming in the New England area for 8 years and was looking for a partner to start a CSA with. Cynnie and I met and Bellair Farm CSA was born! All of my farming and managerial experience had been on a CSA farm and I was strongly philisophically married to the CSA model because of my interest in community building and the positive impact a strong community can have on a farm and vice versa. The CSA model was not a hard sell, Cynnie was excited to share her beautiful farm with Charlottesville and the CSA business model is compelling, versatile and strong.
Can you give us a brief history of your farm and its role in the area?
Ms. Davis has lived on this farm for over 35 years. The Davis family owned a dairy in the 80′s. Bellair Farm has been around since the 1700′s, so it’s an historic property. During the last 2 years we’ve tryed to become a positive force and a resource for the Charlottesville community. We welcome school groups and organizations onto the farm to learn about sustainable agriculture and how a vibrant local food system can make a positive impact on their community. We’re also interested in making sure that all of Charlottesville can partake in delicious, fresh local food, so we actively try and find ways to get our procuce to folks who might not be able to participate with out some help.
What kinds of in-season food will you offer this spring?
This spring we’ll have lettuce, Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Cabbage, Broccoli, Scallions, carrots, beets, radishes, salad turnips, Kale, Collards, kolrabi, arugula, tat soi, Broccoli raab, garlic scapes, strawberries, basil, peas, mustard, spinach, hon tsai tai, eggs, chicken and pork.
How do consumers select the kinds of food they want? Do you allow consumers to come to the farm and select their own items?
Our CSA takes a mix and match approach, so besides 1 or 2 limited items every week our members choose how they want to fill their bags from the 15-30 items we have out for them. They can come out to the farm or pick up their produce in town at the week day markets. They can also use our Pick Your Own Fields once a week.
What is the most popular item on your farm during the spring season?
How many CSA consumers does your farm support annually?
We’ll sell 360 shares this season, and each share can easily feed 4 people.
Describe your farm in five words or less.
We’re an…open, delicious, sustainable, interactive, packed-with-life…farm.