Celebrate National Agriculture Day

Owner+and+manager+Janet+Gamble+alongside+other+crew+members

Owner and manager Janet Gamble alongside other crew members

Kali Anditon, Assistant Biz & Tech Editor

With National Agriculture Day on March 23, understanding the importance of farming is important in an agricultural area like Whitewater. For some local farms, community supported agriculture (CSA) helps run their businesses and provide communities with fresh produce. Turtle Creek Gardens, a CSA located in Delavan, Wisconsin, is getting ready for their summer growing season.  

Turtle Creek Gardens grows organic vegetable and vegetable products, alongside herb, vegetable and flower transplants for the average gardener. In addition to their agricultural products, the team also sells pastured beef and pork, as well as their specialty crop, hemp. This CSA is highly regarded and is sold out for the remainder of the year.  

“The CSA members are individuals, so it’s a model that is directed towards the consumer,” says owner and manager Janet Gamble. “We also have sales directed to grocery stores and some restaurants. Another direct option is our online farm store, which is a la carte. Those are delivered to the closest CSA sites to where people live. We have delivery in the winter and have a farmers’ market in Shorewood starting in June on Sundays.” 

As planting season draws nearer, Turtle Creek Gardens began planting in their greenhouses in early March and plants will be ready to be transported into the fields in April. Because of an increase of consumers wanting fresh and valuable produce, Turtle Creek Gardens values the production of their harvest. The community helps back the hard work and effort that the team puts in.  

“Agriculture should be celebrated because it is the backbone of our society,” says geography student Cole Weber. “Local produce is important for communities for many reasons. It can help combat air pollution since local produce does not have to travel far to get to the market and it can help stimulate the local economy by benefiting a local business. Community supported agriculture helps connect people to their produce supplier, I’ve heard of CSAs even being used in urban areas to help combat food deserts.” 

Food deserts, or areas that lack accessibility to affordable and healthy food options, are combated by local farms providing fresh vegetables to the community. Turtle Creek Gardens make use of both their green houses and hoop houses to ensure the longest growing season possible, as well as utilizing cover crops for the best soil life.  

“Cover crops are really good because they keep something growing in the soil year-round,” says professor of geography Peter Jacobs. “While they may go dormant in the wintertime, they live until it’s too cold for them to grow in the fall and as soon as it’s warm enough for them in the spring they begin to grow again. When plants are growing, they are actually pumping things out of the roots, sugars and acids and things like that feed the microorganisms that do much of the work in nature to decompose and cycle nutrients. They need the nutrients from living plants. Cover crops have been shown to actually increase yields of subsequent crops without having to put in more inputs, like commercial fertilizer because it helps that nutrient cycle to occur.” 

Turtle Creek Gardens is working to ensure the best quality produce for its members, despite pressures from much larger farms.  

“When the market fluctuates a lot, small farms are hit the hardest and a lot are going out of business,” says Gamble. “Small farms have the ability and practices to sequester carbon, so they’re better for the environment than the big industrial farms.” 

To help protect the environment and to receive the best local produce, consider joining a CSA membership. 

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