Inch by inch, row by row: Home and community gardeners harvest more than a crop

"Homegrown tastes better," said Giniecki. "Taste is the primary product. You can't beat going to the garden and picking a fresh tomato."

For information:

Capital District Community Gardens: www.cdcg.org or 274-8685

National Gardening Association: www.garden.org or 802-863-5251

Guilderland Community Gardens: townofguilderland.org

Larry Sombke: www.beautifuleasygardens.com

SIDEBAR: Sharing in a farm's bounty

Agricultural concept connects consumers with food's origins

By JIM CUOZZO, Spotlight Staff

German-raised farmer Trauger Groh founded the Temple-Wilton Community Farm in New Hampshire in 1985 and is now recognized as the pioneer of community supported agricultural, or CSA, farms in the United States.

Temple-Wilton still exists and continues to grow organic products financially supported by the individuals who sustain the operation. They share in both the risks and profits.

With CSA's, members or "share-holders" of the farm pledge a fee in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. With that fee comes the bounty of the harvest.

"The CSA concept represents a completely different relationship between farmers and eaters," said Steve Gilman of Stillwater, who for many years owned a CSA farm in Quaker Springs between Stillwater and Schuylerville. Gillman's farm was once supported by more than 100 people and several restaurants in the Capital District.

"The history of CSA's began in Europe and Japan, and Groh is credited with staring the first CSA in this country," Gillman said.

In 2004, more than 1,700 CSA farms were registered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the list continues to grow with more than 40 in New York.

"CSA is a real response to industrialization and is local agriculture, or food with a face," said Gilman.

The reason for a CSA is so a farmer can grow his crops early without having to worry about startup costs from a bank.

"Farmers would go over their farm budget and members would pledge to offset certain expenses to receive what is produced," said Gillman. "They are getting money upfront at the beginning of the season, and in return CSA shareholders are getting food at a wholesale price."

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