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Rolling Prairie announcement hints of spring

January 23rd, 2009 · 3 Comments · local food

A glimmer of spring arrived at my house this week, and I’m not talking about yesterday’s unseasonable warmth. Rather, I’m referring to the flier announcing the 2009 Rolling Prairie Farmers Alliance produce subscription service, a type of CSA (community supported agriculture).

The alliance is a group of six farms that cooperatively furnish a weekly vegetable supply to about 300 subscribers from May through October, give or take a couple of weeks. The farmers deliver twice a week in Lawrence and once a week at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park and the Franklin Center in Kansas City, Kan.

This will be RPFA’s 16th season, and the 16th season I’ve subscribed. I gave a call to Bob Lominska, who will be site coordinator at the Monday delivery in Lawrence, to see what this season holds in store. Here are a few things I learned:

The nationwide interest in local food has been a boon to RPFA. In fact, the waiting list is so long for the Kansas City area sites that the alliance didn’t bother to send fliers to people there.

Lawrence customers account for about a third of the total subscribers. I suspect more people didn’t sign up in advance here because we’re spoiled by living in a small city where waiting isn’t a major requirement in our daily lives, and sellouts of anything are relatively unusual. As I understand, last year was fully subscribed, however, so I won’t be complacent about the Feb. 1 deadline!

The RPFA farmers have gotten into a rhythm, more or less. I could fairly see Bob shrug when I asked about the growing plan for 2009, and he reported that the group had planned “in a casual sort of way.” In other words, although farmers are famously independent-minded, and although some RPFA growers have come and gone over the years, members of the group have settled in and seem to have a general understanding of which growers grow what and in what quantities. “We’ve just gotten better at what we do,” he said.

Prices are staying the same. The alliance decided to hold the line on price, mindful of customers’ financial anxiety. Some people probably think the prices are awfully high, at $16 a week and a $70 deposit (most of which is applied to the final two or three weeks’ service). Anyone who shops for high-quality organic produce, however, will surely think it’s a bargain. I need to develop a taste for mushrooms, though, as they are a fairly frequent and high-value item, which I usually give away.

Yes, it’s very definitely midwinter here in Kansas, as today’s temperature (which has been sliding since 6 a.m. to 20 degrees and snowing as I write this) and the forecast (chance of snow tonight, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) attest. This Rolling Prairie harbinger, though, gives me hope that I’ll make it through another winter so as to revel in the glorious greens sure to greet me when Rolling Prairie rolls out its first produce in April or May.

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