Last month, Tupelo’s Native Son Farm planted community supported agriculture in Oxford.
CSA, as it’s commonly called, is a system in which customers pay at the start of a growing season and week by week receive a share of the harvest. It has given a taste of the 20-acre farm to people from all over the state, according to owners Will and Amanda Reed.
“We see a demand,” Will Reed said. “This year, we’ve had CSA shares in Tupelo, Starkville, Jackson and Meridian.”
It came as no surprise, then, when a group of Oxonians approached the Reeds about adding Oxford to that list.
“We didn’t necessarily set out to market our CSA in Oxford,” Reed said, “but it seemed like there was a core group that was interested in receiving shares.” According to Madeline Yoste, who began working for the farm this year, bringing CSA to Oxford just made sense.
“Having roots here in the city, it was just a no-brainer,” Yoste said. “We’ve got a lot of loyal customers — people that love our vegetables and are really excited.”
They are excited for good reason: Native Son offers local, organically grown produce. The farmers use no synthetic substances in the growing process, a method that earned the farm a Naturally Grown certification in 2011.
“There’s really no other product like what we are offering available in Mississippi,” Reed said. “I think there’s a big market of people who like to cook and like good food and don’t want pesticides on it.”
Elizabeth Speed is one of those people, and one of 18 names on Oxford’s CSA list. “It was a good price,” Speed said. “It’s an easy pick up for me, and I know that I’m getting locally grown, organic vegetables for my family.” Speed divides her share among two other families and still has plenty to feed the four in her household. She says that exposure to new vegetables is part of the appeal. “I don’t really buy some of the things that I get here, so I’ve been able to try some different vegetables. It’s fun for our family.”
So, over the course of 12 weeks this fall, Speed and other CSA members will receive a mix of vegetables such as greens, turnips and tomatoes. But no matter what may be in the weekly share, it will always have been harvested only 24 to 48 hours before it goes home with a member. According to Reed, after the veggies are picked, they are washed and cooled, then transported on ice in an air-conditioned vehicle. They are delivered on Tuesdays to Oxford City Market, where Native Son is also a weekly vendor.
“We pride ourselves on the freshness of our produce,” said Reed. “A lot of stuff is picked the morning that the customers get it.” Aside from the convenience that CSA provides, the farm’s website says it’s committed to producing
“The freshest, most delicious and nutrient-dense food that you can put on your dinner table.” For Reed, whose farm is in its sixth year, that is the ultimate goal. “In Mississippi right now, we’re facing an unprecedented health crisis, and a lot of that is centered around poor nutrition,” he said. “We try to be really professional with our farm and put out an extremely high quality product.”
To learn more about Native Son Farm and CSA, visit their website at www.nativesonfarm.com
Anna McCollum is a senior print journalism major at the University of Mississippi. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org