Farm Local

   Want to reap the benefits of growing your own food but don’t have the time or space to start a farm? Then take part in community-supported agriculture. The United States Department of Agriculture describes the practice as “a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation…with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.” While some CSAs require a time commitment from its shareholders, most simply ask for an annual fee to cover farming costs. In return, members receive locally sourced, sustainable produce on a regular basis.

Produce from Kai-Kai Farm. Photo by Nathan Venzara

   Based in Indiantown, Kai-Kai Farm has been operating on a community-supported agriculture model since opening in early 2008. Co-owner Carl Frost explains the model allows Kai-Kai to be a local vegetable resource and offer diverse crops. “Our customers comment that they enjoy fresh-harvested vegetables because they have better flavor and texture compared to grocery store counterparts [that come] from who knows where,” Frost says. At Kai-Kai Farm, the season runs from October through May, with limited vegetation available during the summer months. We spoke with Frost about the environmental and health benefits of community-supported agriculture as well as the basics of the practice. What attracted you to the community-supported agriculture model?

Frost: This approach seemed the best way to acquaint ourselves with direct marketing, local taste and opportunities by trialing so many vegetable seeds at once. It definitely ran against the conventional grain of farming: grow a select few traditional crops, like peppers, tomatoes and squash, for sale to wholesalers.

How does the practice promote sustainability?

Whenever children visit the farm, the respect for their health becomes clear. They are playing in the soil, picking/eating strawberries and tomatoes, so we always wanted a consumer-friendly destination. With so many eyes on our practices, sustainability seemed a natural fit.

What do you see as the greatest personal health benefit?

Locally harvested vegetables are really fresh, super tasty, nutritious and have better shelf lives.

What do you feel is the greatest environmental benefit?

It reduces food miles and uses the local land resource in the highest and best-use manner.

How is the produce distributed to members?

Produce from Kai-Kai Farm. Photo by Nathan Venzara

We ask if the consumer is located in our service area and about vegetable likes and dislikes, how many family members, consumption and frequency of box delivery or pick up. CSA boxes (a small box has up to 10 vegetables and a large box has up to 15) may be delivered to a limited area from Northlake Boulevard up to Jensen Beach. We distribute boxes at green markets [including those in] Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach and Stuart. We also distribute boxes at Francesca’s Terra Verde Farm Club and Fresh Harvest Market.

How many members are involved?

Last season we had 175. Next season will be higher because we have added additional acreage at the back of the farm.

What produce is available at Kai-Kai Farm during the summer months?

The selection is narrower, for sure, but we keep growing vegetables that tolerate bugs, heat and rain: squash, okra, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, black-eyed peas, mustard, mini-kale, to name some.

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