It must be spring. I received my first seed catalogs in the mail, and everyone on my street, except me, has their leaves raked and bagged. The air might still be crisp, but there is no mistaking the mass exodus of Jacksonions peeking outside, gardening gloves in hand, excitedly uncovering the first shoots of spring bulbs cresting over cocoa-hued dirt.
Soon the farmers’ markets will call to us, whispering sweet nothings of salad greens, tomatoes, squash, and all manner of fresh, local cheeses, breads, pastries, salsas, and homemade ethnic treats. Even with the abundance of organic produce available year-round to those of us blessed to live in Southern Oregon, nothing beats growing, or buying local fruits and vegetables, for taste, nutrition, and value. Need some incentive?
”Local food is often safer,” says the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD.) to Treehuggger.com’s Dominic Muren. “Even when it’s not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms about dousing their wares with chemicals. Small farms are also more likely to grow more variety, too, protecting biodiversity and preserving a wider agricultural gene pool, an important factor in long-term food security.”
Lucky for us, in Jackson County alone, there are nearly 2000 farms growing fruits, tree nuts, berries, not to mention vegetables, melons, eggs, meats, and dairy from which to gather the season’s finest ingredients.
The Historic Hanley Farm, for example, is practically on our doorstep. Established in 1857, this 37-acre working farm strives to preserves the history of the people who settled the land and their contributions to the agricultural development of the Rogue Valley.
Nicholas Mahmood and Elizabeth Worcester, who you’ll recognize from the Jacksonville Farmers’ Market, have developed a CSA (community supported agriculture) on the Farm, offering 20 weeks of farm-grown produce. The season begins May 25th, 2013, but you’ll want to purchase a full, or half, share of this season’s produce as soon as possible because they are going fast. Expect 5-8 lbs. weekly (full-share) of a variety of vegetables that will change seasonally, plus a loaf of freshly baked Coquette artisan bread.
Don’t worry if a weekly share of produce is more than you can handle. On June 1st, Hanley Farm opens it’s new on-site farm stand from which you can buy fruits and vegetables ala carte. Hanley Farm will also hold a booth at the Sunday Jacksonville Farmers Market 10am – 2pm, from June – October, each year.
Contact Hanley Farm at HanleyFarmCSA@gmail.com, call 541-899-3171, or visit the CSA and Farm Stand at 1053 Hanley Road, (officially in Central Point but about a mile from downtown J’Ville.)
Now, if you are looking for peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, and apples, go no further than Jacksonville’s South Stage Cellars Orchard. The owner, Chris Pellet, insists, “If you‘ve never eaten a tree-ripened nectarine, then you’ve never eaten a nectarine!”
Offering at least 15 varieties of peaches and nectarines, alone, the orchard is a perfect stop for those who just want a cool, sweet treat on a hot, summer day to those with larger aspirations. The orchard offers discounts on canning quantities and will have on hand pre-bagged fruit for that purpose.
Visit the farm stand during the harvest season, beginning around the first of July through late November, at 972 Old Stage Road, Central Point. Contact Gary or Chris Pellett, at 541-245-0503, for specifics, or follow their updates on Facebook.com/oldstagefarm.
Lastly, don’t rule out Jacksonville merchants in your search for local, organic, or sustainable food. Ray’s Food Place, on N. 5th St., carries a selection of local and organic produce, and many of our award-winning restaurants and inns either grow their own food, or feature locally sourced and often, organic, ingredients.
With all of these options right in our backyard, there’s no reason not to eat the freshest, most nutritious food available! Happy eating!
Check out Karen’s raw food blog and recipes on www.organicfoodiesonline.ipage.com