With more consumers choosing and eating organic in recent years for many different reasons from personal health to environmental concerns, knowing where your food comes from is something we should all be more curious about. Growing your own food is a good start, but beyond that, there are only a few other ways to truly know where your food comes from. Farmer’s markets allow you the opportunity to purchase vegetables directly from a farm and provide a chance to personally get to know your farmer, ask them questions and become familiar with their farming practices. You can confirm that they are not using chemicals that are harmful to you and the environment, and that they are using farming practices that are sustainable in the long term. Those are ways to get one step closer to knowing where your food comes from. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way to connect even further with your local farm, the farmer, and the land they are growing on.
Many different area farms offer weekly CSA ‘shares’ including vegetables, fruit, eggs, or meat depending on what their farm’s focus is. Everything is fresh and direct from the farm to your table. CSA members have the option to pick up their share at the farm or at a local market. By supporting local agriculture in this way, you are getting as close to the source of your food as possible, plus saving on costs because you are committing to a large number of weeks. Most CSAs range from 20-24 weeks running from spring to fall. CSA shares are pre-paid early in the season to allow farms the ability to pay for costs associated with the season, such as seeds, equipment, labor, and any other necessary supplies needed to get the season started. It’s a great way to support local farms and also get to know where and how your food is grown. Some farms offer volunteer days where members can actually come and help with harvesting or weeding, allowing you to learn hands on about the farming practices used to grow your food.
For us at Full Lotus Farm, what started as a journey into urban farming years ago with goals of self-sufficiency and knowing our food’s source evolved into a passion to grow and provide for others using different skills that we have learned over time and through experience. The simple joys of sharing home cooked meals inspired from garden harvests is something that we hope to get all our farm supporters to enjoy as well. One of our goals is to educate those who want to learn about how to grow their own food, using the same methods we do on our farm. By having educational on-farm workshops teaching about our permaculture no-till methods we hope it will help you to understand how the same techniques can be used in your home vegetable garden. We know we will always have something different and unique to offer at the farm, but we hope many will gain the confidence to be able to grow different things on their own too. Using the knowledge acquired about sustainable farming and conservation methods you can feel empowered to make some positive change or contribution to the environment. If everyone started taking small actions towards a more sustainable future, we could really start to see positive changes. Plus you’ll be learning how to provide your own food in the process.
Some organic farms use practices that aren’t necessarily sustainable for years into the future, such as tilling their fields and breaking up all the microbes and life within the soil. The practices used on Full Lotus Farm are the future of sustainable farming. We go beyond organic, as we do virtually no damage to the soil because we do not till and we never use any chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Our practices and the concepts they are derived from have proven that all-natural and close to nature is always better. We are also working towards reducing our tractor use in our fields to minimize our fossil fuel consumption and soil compaction. We will always maintain a full transparency with our farming practices, and through teaching the methods of how we grow, we hope to educate the public on exactly what we are doing on our farm and why. Hopefully this can inspire a change for other organic farms to start moving towards permaculture no-till methods so they can damage their soil less and increase their farm’s biodiversity.
This season at Full Lotus Farm, we are excited to be connected with the Genesee Land Trust, a local not-for-profit conservation organization based out of Rochester, NY that protects the land Full Lotus Farm is located on from development. We will be growing over 200 different varieties of vegetables, fruit, and flowers. We specialize in growing open-pollinated heirloom varieties and will have many things that are hard to find elsewhere. We will also offer eggs in the future, since we enjoy raising heritage breed chickens for the same reason we enjoy growing heirloom varieties, they are a living piece of history.
If you join a CSA to get this closer connection to your food’s source, you should definitely never be shy to ask about what methods are used to grow the food you are eating. And also what opportunities the farm provides to further learn about and connect with where your food is grown. As the saying goes: know your farmer, know your food!
If you’re interested in learning more about sustainable farming and regenerative agriculture, on Saturday May 5th from 11-2pm at Full Lotus Farm there will be a grand opening for the 2018 season. For details visit www.fulllotusfarm.com