In a sense, CSAs are a modern, codified iteration of less formal systems of trade whereby farmers and their neighbors have exchanged food, goods, services or other payment for ages. Just as old as these exchange systems are systems of shared land use, and both are alive and well at Apponagansett Farms in Dartmouth. Owners Susan and Tony Wood are helping neighbors, who used to raise Morgan horses on the property, to keep their land in agricultural production by farming a portion of it to produce food for their CSA. The Woods and their neighbors, who still produce herbs and cut flowers, share space in their farmstand, and plan to organize a similar arrangement at the Dartmouth Farmer’s Market.
Tony and Susan, who is a Dartmouth native, searched for land for more than a year in a competitive agricultural land use market before Tony came to a decision. One day, he explains, he decided to just walk up the street, knock on the door and ask his neighbor about working something out. Work out it did, in a fashion mutually beneficial to the young couple, their growing business and neighbors no longer able to handle the property’s upkeep alone. Besides the farmstand, the Elm Street property is home to Apponagansett Farms’s pick-your-own plot, an acre of vegetables, greenhouses and small animals. Inspired by this initial success, Susan approached a small sheep farmer across the bay, securing an additional three acres of land and even a herd of sheep!
All this neighborliness enriches the experience of Apponagansett Farms CSA members, who are eagerly looking forward to this year’s 20-week CSA share. The Farm recently welcomed a hundred chicks and, in addition to vegetables, will be able to offer eggs for sale later this summer. Other recent deliveries include the couple’s new ‘previously owned’ vintage tractor, especially well suited for the way they farm, and jars of maple syrup from a farm in the Berkshires where the couple previously worked for two years. Depending on their estimation of rabbits, patrons can purchase them for meat or for pets at the farmstand, where curious geese, guinea fowl and assorted four-legged livestock welcome visitors with a charmingly discordant cacophony of barnyard greetings.
While the Woods’ may favor a smaller scale of production, they are motivated by a much grander vision. Enthusiastic preservers and cold-frame growers, the pair hopes to offer shorter fall and spring CSA shares, as well as meat and canned food shares, in coming years. Ultimately, they aspire to offer a limited full-diet CSA. As the name implies, full diet CSAs offer veggies, meats, dairy, eggs, and some fruit and grain, often along with other products like soaps, preserved foods and cut flowers, usually on a year round basis.
But, lest anyone (like me!) get head of themselves, Tony and Susan are focused on the season ahead and on offering the highest quality non-certified organic produce and farm products to CSA members and to all their customers.