• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 59s

Harvesting Alaska: CSAs offer fresh, healthy produce and convenience

By Carolyn Hall 7:40 AM June 20, 2016

Refrigerators are full for about 90 families who buy from Arctic Organics farm in Palmer. For these folks, summer is officially here.

“This is what tells me that summer starts, it doesn’t matter what temperature it is, or what the sky is like, this is the beginning of summer,” says Peg Faithful, who’s been a customer for about 20 years.

Sarah Bean, owner of Arctic Organics, and her son, Fabian, drive the 45 miles from Palmer to Anchorage on Wednesdays to a drop off location in the South Addition. Last week kicked off the first delivery of their 28th season.

This vegetable delivery system is called a CSA, short for Community Supported Agriculture. The Alaska Community Agriculture Association calls it a partnership between a local farm and “shareholder consumers.” There are various types of share agreements — such as produce, eggs or dairy — and levels of involvement. Each arrangement is unique in length of season, foods offered, price and flexibility.

Bean describes it as a system of growing produce and having community members commit to that farm to get their produce for them for the whole summer. It’s also about the vegetables being fresh.

“The last of this was picked, you know, less than three hours ago,” she said.

Carol Sturgulewski has been a customer for three years. She said she doesn’t have the time to garden anymore, so the CSA is a perfect solution and having a refrigerator full of Bean’s produce changes the way she eats.

“I don’t want to waste it, so I eat it,” Sturgulewski said. “So I eat better in the summertime.”

HA_Veggie Collage

Most of what Bean offers won’t be found in your typical grocery store. Greens like mizuna — a mild, Asian mustard green — which can be used in salads.

Sturgulewski likes to have fun with the different varieties of greens Arctic Organics offers.

“I go home with it and say, ‘Oh I’ve got this and this and this, let’s play and what can I make with this stuff,'” she said.

And she likes the convenience. She said the deliveries aren’t out of her way and it’s worthwhile.

It’s not just for customer convenience. Bean says deliveries complement the line of work she’s in. Instead of having every customer drive out to the valley, increasing the farm’s carbon footprint, Bean sees it differently.

“We care a lot about cutting back on rampant consumption of fossil fuels,” Bean said, adding that it’s far more efficient for them to bring it in.

While farmers like CSA programs because they can provide for people and do the work they love, there are plenty advantages for consumers. Anchorage resident Corey Brause says he’s a customer because of the taste, quality, freshness and the local benefits.

“The farmer is your friend really,” Brause said. “I mean, they’re putting it all on the line for us, for the consumer, and so long as you look at it as a symbiotic relationship, then it’s a win-win.”

Customers like Brause are what make these community arrangements work for farmers like Bean.

“We, of course, just wanted to run a farm, and this was just a nice way to build a real dedicated clientele and not have to worry about whether we grow the right amount of anything,” says Bean.

A set amount of produce goes to her customers every week and what’s leftover is sold at the Anchorage Farmers Market at 15th Avenue and Cordova Street on Saturdays.

For longtime customer Faithful, it’s a wonderful tradition.

“It’s good, it’s fresh, it’s local,” Faithful said. “You just have total confidence in how it was grown, so it just doesn’t get any better than this.”

Carolyn Hall can be reached by email, on Facebook and Twitter.

Other Southcentral farms with CSAs include Talkeetna GrownSpring Creek Farm, and Sun Circle Farm. To find a CSA farm near you, check out this list from Alaska Community Agriculture Association.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary cat mayor, dies

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 22:25

    Stubbs, Talkeetna’s honorary cat mayor beloved by Alaskans and tourists alike, has died at the age of 20 according to the animal’s owners. Stubbs’ death was announced late Saturday in a statement from the Spone family, which purchased Nagley’s General Store and the West Rib Pub and Grill in 2015. Part of the contract, the […]

  • New White House communications director deletes old tweets contradicting Trump

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 19:55

    A day after accepting a top White House job, President Trump’s new communications director announced Saturday that he’s deleting old tweets that were critical of his new boss, saying his own views have evolved and that what he said in the past shouldn’t be a distraction. Full transparency: I'm deleting old tweets. Past views evolved […]

  • News

    Car-motorcycle crash hurts 2, closes Old Seward Highway south of Dowling Road

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 19:05

    The Old Seward Highway was closed Saturday night south of Dowling Road in both directions by a car-motorcycle collision that injured two people. Alaska road-conditions website 511.alaska.gov first mentioned the wreck at Old Seward near 69th Avenue shortly after 6 p.m. Anchorage police Sgt. Dawn Neer, at the scene, said a motorcycle had been headed […]

  • News

    Efforts continue to save Anchorage’s 4th Avenue Theatre

    by Dave Leval on Jul 22, 17:38

    There’s no denying Sandy Harper loves the 4th Avenue Theatre. “The theater has been here longer than I have,” said Harper, who has called Anchorage home for 30 years. The building has been part of the downtown Anchorage skyline for more than twice that, a span of 70 years. “I don’t think there’s anything like […]

  • Dozens hospitalized for excessive drinking at Chance The Rapper concert

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 17:28

    HARTFORD, Conn. — More than 90 people were hospitalized Friday during a concert featuring Chance the Rapper in Connecticut, officials said. A large number of people hospitalized were underage attendees experiencing “severe intoxication,” Hartford Deputy Chief Brian Foley said Saturday. Foley said officers made 50 underage drinking referrals Friday at Hot 93.7′s Hot Jam concert at Xfinity Theatre. […]

  • News

    Coast Guard: Kodiak missile test could occur as early as next week

    by Associated Press on Jul 22, 14:15

    KODIAK, Alaska (AP) – The U.S. Coast Guard says a launch from the Kodiak Island rocket launch complex in Alaska will occur as soon as next week. The Kodiak Daily Mirror reports a U.S. Coast Guard notice released Wednesday states the launch is scheduled to occur at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska between 7 p.m. on […]

  • Son charged in death of father whose body was left on couch for weeks

    by CBS/AP on Jul 22, 14:12

    FRACKVILLE, Pa. — A man has been charged with killing his father, who authorities say was shot to death and his body then left on a couch in his home for weeks. Tyler Swantek, 24, faces charges in Schuylkill County including criminal homicide, first- and third-degree murder, aggravated assault and abuse of a corpse in the […]

  • News

    Search suspended for man overboard from skiff in Prince William Sound

    by Chris Klint on Jul 22, 13:21

    The U.S. Coast Guard spent much of Friday looking for a man who fell overboard from a skiff on the west side of Prince William Sound, but was unable to locate any sign of him. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios said that the man went overboard at about 2 a.m. Friday from a commercial […]