By: Mack Johnson
Extension Horticulture Agent
N.C. Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center
Spring is definitely in the air! The birds are singing, the pollen is flowing, the grass and weeds are too. With the arrival of spring comes, thoughts for warm days. Plans often include family outings, fun, and fresh foods. How fresh is your food? Some fresh produce may have spent many days in transit before arriving in a local store, but if grown locally it may have been harvested within a day or two of purchase. The shorter the span between harvest and consumption, the more opportunity for freshness, nutrient value, and taste to remain intact.
Gardening is an excellent opportunity to access fresh vegetables, but if you don’t grow your own there are ample options to purchase them. Robeson County is home to many vegetable producers, roadside stands, farmers markets, and buying options. You can always visit the Robeson County Farmers Market (RCFM) located on 8th and Elm streets. The official operating hours are 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays starting May 11 through November 2013. There is something for everyone at the RCFM. There is also a farmers market in downtown Pembroke on Thursday mornings from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. located at University Road and Main street. If you can’t make those hours or find yourself overwhelmed then you can join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
CSAs are a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. You receive a weekly share of available produce for a set time, usually 5 weeks. CSA customers pickup their weekly share at North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center at 455 Caton Road, Lumberton. With the CSA you will receive shares of the quality produce most abundant that week. Also included will be recipes for the consumer to try utilizing the purchased product. It can be a pleasant surprise not always knowing what will be offered each week. Offerings include fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, and even local honey. Also, you may be more persuaded to try a vegetable or a recipe that you would not have otherwise. Plans are for four different CSAs to be offered this year. The Spring Session will be May 22 – June 19. Other planned sessions will be Summer Session 1, July 3 – July 31; Summer Session 2, August 14 – September 11; and the Fall Session, September 25 – October 23.
The CSA Spring Session will offer produce, beef, and egg shares. Produce and beef shares will cost $65 each while egg shares (half dozen eggs per week) will be offered for $7.50. If you decide to buy a produce, beef, and egg share that would mean five weeks of fresh produce, meat, and eggs for $137.50, which is quite a deal.
The number of share offerings are limited and will be filled on a first come-first serve basis beginning May 1 Please call early. Money spent locally will grow Robeson County’s local food system and economy. By eating healthy and locally you are helping our local economy grow. For more information on how you can participate in a CSA, please contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticulture Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center at 671-3276, by E-mail at Mack_Johnson@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at http://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.