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Darienites provide nourishment to New York farm

Published 2:02 pm, Friday, March 21, 2014

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  • Produce from Stoneledge Farm that will provide the produce for the 2014 farm share program at the Darien Library. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed / Darien News Contributed
    Produce from Stoneledge Farm that will provide the produce for the 2014 farm share program at the Darien Library. Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed

 

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Farm share costs
Vegetable: $505
Fruit: $235
Coffee: $126
Mushroom: $98
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Dinner in Darien just got fresher.

The Darien Library has teamed with the 200-acre Stoneledge Farm in New York's Catskill Mountains to offer town residents the opportunity to support a farm and in return get fresh, organic vegetables, fruit, coffee or mushrooms once a week during the

summer.

After Erin Shea, head of adult programing at the library, and a friend signed up for farm share in Stamford last summer, she knew Darien would be a great place for a similar program.

"We're definitely a town that would like one," Shea said.

She reached out to Stoneledge Farm, which told her that as long as she could provide a location for the deliveries, it would take care of the rest.

"I really didn't have to do much," Shea said.

Farm share, or community-supported agriculture (CSA), has provided a lifeline for growers.

"If it wasn't for CSA, our farm wouldn't be what it is today," Peter Kavakos, of Stoneledge Farm, said. "A lot of farms shrink and die off."

Kavakos said the idea to start the CSA nearly 20 years ago came from his mother, Deborah. Since it started, the program has "exploded," he said.

Darien residents have the opportunity to purchase a vegetable, fruit, coffee or mushroom share before the harvesting season. The shares allow the farms to cover their yearly costs, almost all of which are incurred before the crops are harvested, according to Stoneledge Farm's website. Stoneledge provides produce to 20 farm share locations, four of which are in Connecticut.

The produce that's delivered through each share varies on the year, Kavakos said.

"It's a commitment for people to invest in the farm," he said.

Stoneledge Farm was one of the first to dive into the CSA initiative.

Kavakos said those who invest in the farms benefit because they're getting the produce from a specific place and they know the farm from which the produce comes and the people who are growing it. Those who purchase a share are invited to visit Stoneledge Farm.

Forty-one shares have been purchased through the library as of Monday, according to Shea. Several people are splitting the cost of shares, though.

"People seem really excited about it," Shea said. "I think people are excited to cook with vegetables they have not heard of before or have not jumped to buy before."

A sample of the vegetables available are red sails lettuce, zephyr summer squash, bright lights swiss chard, sunburst tomatoes and carnival winter squash.

The library also plans on providing recipes for the vegetables that will be available each week. Shea said the library also will feature books based on the vegetables, including some that focus on root vegetables that will be available in the fall.

Additionally, shareholders have to volunteer at least once during the season, primarily checking in people who are picking up.

The pick-up site will be in the library's Louise Parker Berry Community Room, and any leftover vegetables will be donated to a charity, such as the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County.

"I think people really like picking out their vegetables," Shea said.

As of March 17, there were only eight shares left before the library is sold out for the season, which runs from June though November.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews