Jan 13, 2015

Rattle's Garden Farmshare (or CSA) & Eggshare

On Monday, we heard from Tara Stainton of Rattle's Garden and why she's an egg snob.  Today you can read more about her farmshare program (think Community Supported Agriculture).  If you live near the LR Athletic Club, she has a very convenient deal for you --you can pick up in the LRAC parking lot.  You don't have to be a Club member to get her Farmshare delivered there.  I especially love that Tara is gleaning the extras from her garden for the Spirit of Vilonia Ministries (see the volunteer part near the bottom).  --Julie

What is Farmshare?
We used to refer to our program as a CSA which stands for Community Supported Agriculture and can take many forms.  This year we've changed the name of our program to Farmshare to emphasize that you are buying a share of what our farm produces.  This is a subscription agreement between our farm and families wishing to join our community and enjoy really delicious organic food.

Why a Farmshare?
For us, it truly is about community. While we are grateful to be part of a large local food movement through the Little Rock markets we also want to share our vegetables and flowers with our rural neighbors. The commitment our Farmshare customers make by forming this membership allows us to do this.
For you, we hope it is because you too want to be part of our community. We hope that it is because you want to know where your food is coming from, who is growing it and how it is being grown. We know that it is because you want the freshest, healthiest, tastiest vegetables available to you.

What is our Agreement?
By becoming a farm member you agree to take the time to stop by our farm every Tuesday for 10 weeks between 9am and noon or 4pm and 6pm (unless we’ve made other arrangements) to receive a basket of organic vegetables we have grown and harvested at the peak of maturity to be enjoyed by your family. By becoming a Little Rock member of the Farmshare, you agree to pick up your share every Thursday for 10 weeks from the parking lot of the Little Rock Athletic Club between 9 am and 11 am. In return, we agree to work our tails off growing you a variety of organic, fresh vegetables that have been selected based simply on how fantastic they taste.

What scrumptious vegetables are being grown at Rattle’s Garden?
For the past six years we have grown a variety of vegetables including broccoli, cabbage, swiss chard, spinach, snap peas, green beans, lettuce, kale, garlic, onions, yellow squash, zucchini, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, purple hull peas, eggplant, sweet peppers and okra.  We also grow a lot of blackberries and a few blueberries and strawberries that make it into the baskets if we have a good season.  While not all of this produce will be available at the same time, most of it will be available over the 10-week subscription period. Inevitably, every year we have a crop failure or three. Despite weather and war with bugs or deer, we always manage to grow a lot of food and we want to share our harvest with you. We hope to fill baskets with at least 5-6 different types of vegetables each week. We want every $25 basket to be equal to or greater than the market value of the individual items in it.


When will this subscription begin?
As with all farming, we are dependent on Mother Nature. We hope to start the CSA the first week in May and run for 10 consecutive weeks. If our early spring weather is great, we may start a week early. If the weather is cold and rainy, we may start a week or two later. We will send out weekly newsletters via email beginning in April to let you know how the farm is progressing for the year and when you should expect to pick-up your first basket.

What if your family needs to miss a Tuesday pick-up?
We know that there may be a day your family can’t make the pick-up. We are going to have one make-up week at the end of the season to help ensure that everyone receives all ten baskets. If you are going to miss a week, we need you to notify us by 7 am the morning before your pick-up via text or email to keep us from harvesting your food. If you cannot give us advance notice or you need to miss more than one week, you are welcome to send someone to pick up your share in your place or your share will be donated to a needy family in the area.

Do you get to pick what you want in your basket?
Not exactly…we’ll divide each week’s produce up evenly between the baskets to make sure everyone gets variety and the full value of their basket.  As members you will also be given the first opportunity to purchase large amounts of successful crops outside of the Farmshare season at wholesale prices for you to freeze or preserve by canning. If freezing or canning is new to you, we can help!

What about all of those chickens in our front yard?
This year we've decided to add an Eggshare option to the farm baskets.  To get a dozen of our beautiful, pastured eggs added to your backet every weeek you can simply add the Eggshare option ($50) to your total on the membership agreement.  If you are only interested in an Eggshare and not vegetables, please choose whether you will pick up your eggs from the farm on Tuesdays or from us at the LRAC on Thursdays.

My challenge to you, as volunteers.
Every year we grow more food than we sell.  This year, rather than simply donate the extra, we would like to plant enough to keep the Spirit of Vilonia Ministries supplied with fresh vegetables as often as possible.  To do this, we need your help.  I am challenging you to sign up for a three hour morning or evening at the farm to help pick vegetables for this program.  While this is not a requirement to join the Farmshare, it is an opportunity to really learn where your food comes from and what it takes to get it to those in need.  Volunteer opportunities will be available during the Farmshare season as well as after the season is over.

One key to success is going to be communication! We will post farm updates on our blog (www.rattlesgarden.com), on our Facebook page (Rattle's Garden) and in a short weekly newsletter sent to your email address letting you know what you can expect in your next basket. And we also want to hear from you…keep us posted on which veggies you love and let us know if something isn’t working for you. We can be reached by phone at 501-941-0331.

How do I become a Member?
So, you are ready for the yumminess.
Simply drop us an email at rattlesgarden@yahoo.com to check on availability and then fill out our membership agreement and mail it to us with your full payment of $250 for farm members or $275 for Little Rock members. We are limiting this year’s membership to thirty families picking up on Tuesday from the farm and thirty families picking up on Thursday from the Little Rock Athletic Club.  The Eggshare will be limited to 40 shares.
Thanks for your support! We look forward to working with you this summer!
Tara Stainton

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