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New Ulm Medical Center

Healthy fare: Fresh produce direct from the farm

Katy and Peter Hemberger are pictured with their children Ivy and Fredrik in warmer days last summer on their farm, August Earth.

Katy and Peter Hemberger are pictured with their children Ivy and Fredrik in warmer days last summer on their farm, August Earth. The Hembergers grow more than 70 varieties of fruits and vegetables at August Earth, which are available to area residents who purchase a share in their community-supported agriculture (CSA).

Want to feed your family a variety of the highest quality, freshest fruits and vegetables available? Consider purchasing a share from a local farm.

Each week during the growing season – about 18 in all – you will receive a box of fresh produce.

Depending on what’s harvested, you’ll get a variety of goodies in your box. August Earth near Hanska plans to have more than 70 varieties of produce this year including beets, spinach, tomatoes, melons, carrots, squash, sweet corn, strawberries, raspberries and plums.

At August Earth, you’re also likely to get a jar of honey. Owners Katy and Peter Hemberger have put up three beehives to pollinate their vegetables and add diversity to their farm.

August Earth is one of several farms participating in the New Ulm area’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project (HONU) is encouraging residents to buy into CSAs for two important reasons. One, everyone benefits when they eat locally grown fresh foods, said Rebecca Fliszar, a registered dietitian with HONU. Also, when you buy from area farms, the money goes back into the local economy and supports the community.

The CSA program also benefits the environment. It is estimated that on average, food travels 1,500 miles to reach consumers. Eating local food greatly reduces carbon emissions.

HONU is aimed at heart disease prevention. “Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to help avoid chronic conditions and diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers,” Fliszar said.

From the earth to your plate

“Every day that it takes from the time the produce is picked until it gets to your table, lowers its nutritional content,” explained Fliszar.

With a CSA program, families receive the farm’s produce within hours of it being harvested. This means you get a lot more nutritional value from eating it, Katy Hemberger said.

How do I sign up?
Fliszar: Contact the farms directly. Each farm has a different number of shares available depending on its size. It’s a good idea to sign up early — in February or March — because once a farm sells out its shares, they’re no longer available.

What if a share is too big for my family?
Fliszar: Some farms offer half shares, which are picked up weekly just as the full shares, but include roughly half the quantity as a full share. Several farms also offer advance coupon books or credits for sale. Instead of bringing produce to you that is already preselected and bagged, you can use the coupons or credits to choose and buy your own selections from the farm. Or you might want to share the goodies in your box with family or neighbors.

What if I don’t like everything in the box?
Katy Hemberger: After each season, we send out surveys to those who participated. We’ve found that people pretty much like everything they get. But if they don’t, sometimes they share or trade with others who are participating so they get more of what they like. I also include recipes to encourage people to try our produce in new and different ways.

How long does the produce keep?
Katy Hemberger: There are probably a few things that need to be used within a week. For example, eggplant doesn’t sit too well. But since we harvest everything we put in our boxes that day – or perhaps the night before – everything in it should be good for two weeks or so. I encourage people to eat the greens first.

Will I know what I’m getting?
Katy Hemberger: There is some element of surprise. That’s the fun of it. But I usually give notice of what’s coming the week before. That’s helpful for those who like to plan.

Local farms offering CSAs:

August Earth
11792 195th Ave.
Hanska, MN 56041
A standard 18-week share is about three-quarters of a bushel. You also can get a half share (nine biweekly boxes), a working share, a winter storage share and a pesto share. Prices and pickup locations for 2013 are being determined.

Windjammer Farm
15405 State Hwy. 15
Hanska, MN 56041
Full share is $500; half share is $300.
Pickup is at the farm or from a designated spot in New Ulm on Monday and Thursday afternoons.

Guldan Family Farm
46198 - 561st Ave.
New Ulm, MN 56073
A full share for 16 weeks is $425. A half share is $225.
Pick up is from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays at the Cathedral Church parking lot, 605 N. State St., New Ulm or at the farm from 11 a.m. to noon on Mondays.

Alternative Roots Farm
11197 130th St.
Madelia, MN 56062
A full share is $450.
Credits of $25 to $150 are also available for purchase. You can use the credits to purchase from the farm during the growing season. Delivery and pickup locations are being determined.

Back 40 Acres
32865 401st Ave.
Le Sueur, MN, 56058
You can buy coupons in increments of $50 and you’ll receive $55 in coupons to spend on products from the farm at the New Ulm and Mankato Farmers Markets. Buy eight coupon books for $400 and you’ll get a bonus coupon book for free. Coupons are good for 2013 and 2014.

Source: New Ulm Medical Center - Health Edition
Reviewed by: Rebecca Fliszar, RD, LD
First Published: 02/25/2013
Last Reviewed: 02/25/2013