About Us / Cherry Ridge Organic Farm History: CSA SHARES AVAILABLE NOW FOR 2011 SEASON:FOR INFORMATION AND SIGN UP GO TO OUR WEBSITECherry Ridge Farm is a sustainable small farm outside of Rockbridge Baths, VA. We currently doing market analysis in Lexington, Staunton, Charlottesville, Rickmond and Hampton Roads areas for our CSA program and local growers markets. During the early spring our members purchase "shares" in the CSA. In return, throughout the season we provide them with a weekly share of the farm's harvest. This program provides reasonable compensation to us as farmers, and provides members with outstandingly fresh, high quality, healthy and safe produce, all produced locally. Read on for more details on how it works. For pricing, dates & locations, click the link below that says "Click here for CSA details". You can also visit our website (link below) for more information and sign-up forms. Thanks for your interest in our CSA. We cover some FAQs and details about our program here. For a full brochure with more details, sign-up forms or questions, please email us. Working Shares:We offer and encourage you to consider purchasing a working share. A majority of working members are essential to the program's operation and we make only a limited number of shares available as non-working. Our members who have purchased working shares in the past find it quite rewarding to help with the harvest and enjoy learning more about how the farm works and how their food is produced. Working on the farm really is quite fun, educational and you will meet lots of interesting people. Work requirements are not onerous: Half-share members pitch in 12 hours during the course of a season (usually three mornings usually on pick/pack days) and full-share members pitch in 24 hours. Most of the time working members find it convenient to coordinate their work days along with their transporting days (described below). If you are not physically able to crawl around harvesting vegetable because of bad knees or back, we can accommodate you with a sit down job washing, weighing and bagging the vegetables once picked by others.Sign up and number of members will determine when and which day the pick up days will be but at this early time we do not have subscriber information sufficient enough to set these dates. You will be notified in the coming weeks once we get our subscriptions settled.Thanks again for your interest CSA. Please contact us if you have questions, or if you would like a full brochure with sign-up forms. Our brochure includes even more detail than is provided here, and gives lists of crops we grow, a sample of what a week's share of produce looks like, and more. Feel free to call and talk direct with the farmer for any questions or concerns you might have.Some FAQsHow Our Business Works The most common question we get asked is what is a CSA and how does it work. CSAs in their purest form involve customers financing a farming operation for a season, assuming the risks and rewards of the farm's operation, and receiving a share in the harvest. There are many variations on this model. At Cherry Ridge Farm, we select a variety of crops that we are going to grow each season and estimate how many families we can feed with these crops. We create a budget to cover the farm's operational costs of growing the crops and paying the farmer a salary. We then sell CSA shares that will cover these operational costs. When a customer or "member" buys a share, each week they receive a bag of food from us. In our past 5 years of operating the CSA, we have planed to feed at least 50 customers. Our season will be 25 weeks long, starting in May and ending in late November or maybe early December. The start and stop dates will be determined by the weather as some springs are much colder or wetter than predicted which greatly delays planting. At Cherry Ridge Farm our members share in the responsibility of harvesting and distributing the produce. Most members purchase working shares. In exchange for a discounted price, each member helps on one or two harvest days during the season. Our customers find that it really is quite fun to work on the farm and is an opportunity to meet interesting people. Members also are required to help with distributing food. Because we service Lexington and Staunton, each week a member from each area comes to the farm, picks up the produce for all the members in that area, and delivers it to a convenient drop off point in that area. The other members in that area then come to the drop off point to pick up their produce. This arrangement is more convenient for the members than having to travel to the farm each week and saves a great deal of cost that the farm would otherwise assume in transporting the food. What's In a Share?Sometimes people ask about the type and quantity of produce that a member receives if they purchase a share. Part of the agreement is that as farmers we are able to distribute the harvest of those crops that we have available. The members do not choose their weekly vegetables. We do our best to always provide a variety and not inundate members with too much of one vegetable. At any given time we have 5-6 crops in season. We also make sure that the contents of each members' bag are uniform and that during the course of the season they receive vegetables for at least the value of their share price. Usually they receive more. We try to give you about 5-6 meals-worth of vegetables in a serving size matched with your share size. Some vegetables like lettuce we might give you enough to prepare two salads during the week or with beans perhaps you might have enough left overs for another meal later in the week. On rare occasions you might get a larger quantify of something l CSAs are a niche program. Not everyone is willing to be flexible about what vegetables they will be cooking with. Many people are not willing to make such a long commitment. For those who are suited to the CSA experience, however, the rewards are great. The quality of the produce is remarkable, both because it is grown in an optimally healthy manner, and because it is quite fresh - usually picked the same day it is delivered. Members find that they fall in love with certain foods as a result of their CSA experience. They also find that they are stretched to learn to prepare ingredients that they would not have chosen, and often find that they like these newfound foods. Most CSA members also gain great satisfaction from knowing the source of their food, getting to know "their" local farm, and learning more about agriculture. This intangible aspect is an incredibly important part of the CSA program, and we especially seek members who are interested in this type of experience. How We FarmOur farming methods could be described as small, diverse and sustainable. We have enriched our bottomland soil with organic matter over the years, and as a result our land is quite productive per square foot compared with conventional farming operations. We grow a huge diversity of crops, each on a small scale. Because we provide produce to our customers during a 29 week season, we must offer variety. We also must grow our crops in "successions", i.e. timed plantings of the same crop that ensure the crop is in season for a longer period of time than a single planting would be. Our season starts out with cool-weather crops like asparagus, lettuce, various greens, radishes and peas. Later in the season we have warmer weather crops such as tomatoes, corn, snap beans, eggplant, squashes, etc. In the fall we transition again to cool weather greens, root crops such as carrots, beets, turnips, and "keeper" crops such as potatoes and sweet potatoes. Our farming methods are sustainable. We are not USDA certified organic, due in part to administrative costs related to certification. We also believe our growing methods are more discriminating than USDA requirements. We do not use synthetic fertilizers or agricultural chemicals that we consider to be harmful to the farm's ecosystem. We use organic fertilizers to enhance the soil's health, and find that healthy soil goes a long way towards growing healthy plants. Like many sustainable farmers we find that we are not overrun with rampant insect problems, because our crop diversity attracts a full ecosystem of predators and prey that shield us from the worst of insect plagues. We also use a variety of sustainable methods to protect our crop from the insect damage that we do encounter. We hope this information provides you with a basic understanding of what we do and how we do it. We look forward to farming for you and working with you, and we welcome your questions and thoughts along the way.