A bountiful harvest

Farm workers at Turtle Creek Gardens transplanting crops. Photo: http://turtlecreekgardenscsa.com/ photo

Farm workers at Turtle Creek Gardens transplanting crops. Photo: http://turtlecreekgardenscsa.com/ photo

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Community Supported Agriculture: local, seasonal produce

Jan. 28, 2015

By Amber Levenhagen

Turtle Creek Gardens, located north of Delavan, Wisconsin, is a Community Supported Agriculture or CSA.

This farm is supported by the community and provides fresh, organic, locally-produced food to the southeast corner of Wisconsin. They market directly to supermarkets and restaurants, including Whitewater’s very own The Black Sheep restaurant.

A CSA runs on the support of individuals and families that become members of the farm. These members receive fresh produce, typically harvested right before shipment.

Tyler Sailsbery, owner of The Black Sheep, said his restaurant has been purchasing from Turtle Creek Gardens since the restaurant’s beginning.

“More people need to be aware of the power of our local businesses as well as our local gardens,” Sailsbery said.

The 80-acre farm is split between biodynamic vegetable and fruit production, and serves as a home for cattle. Biodynamic refers to a method of organic farming.

“I want customers from our community to enjoy our restaurant and in turn help out local agriculture in our community; I really like what the farm does,” Sailsbery said.

The cost for subscribing varies depending on how many shares are desired. A full share is for one pickup each of the 18 weeks from June to October, and with an early subscription discount available until Jan. 31, the price is $580. A smaller subscription is also available with the same discount applied for a total of $345. The smaller subscription is for nine pickups – every other week.

A student discount can be arranged, according to Turtle Creek Gardens manager Janet Gamble.

Upon signing up to be a member of Turtle Creek Gardens, individuals or families receive shares of produce, the frequency designated by the member, as produce is in season; shares are picked up at various sites located in Southeast Wisconsin. The local site pickup is 185 N. Franklin.

These boxes include a share of the products grown on the farm, as well as a weekly newsletter with stories, recipes and information about the vegetables. Over 40 different types of produce are represented. Some of the products include chard, broccoli, raspberries and peppers.

Share sizes vary as products come into season and depend on the yield of the crop. As the website describes, different circumstances affect the growth of the crop, such as weather conditions.

The farm has a goal, according to the website, to provide at least eight different kinds of vegetables or fruits each week, and a maximum of 16 in a good week.

“CSA promotes buying direct and keeping the smaller farms economically viable,” Gamble said. “It also promotes healthy eating because of the substantial amount of diverse vegetables. It expands the pallet and widens nutritional value.”

The seasons reach from June to October.

Extra products, such as honey and oil, can be purchased through their online store and are delivered with the customers’ share. This gives members the opportunity to purchase more of their favorite products than what was sent with their share.

The farm offers opportunities throughout the season for members to pick their own produce, or work four hours per week in exchange for produce. The farm holds other events, such as the annual Harvest Festival.

“We do as much as we can to support a local and sustainable culture, and they do a good job with that,” Sailsbery said. “It’s nice to have that community of farmers to help us grow, and in hand we are helping our community grow with supporting those important factors of agriculture and sustainability.”

For more information, recipes and how to sign up, refer to turtlecreekgardenscsa.com.