DURHAM: Willow Tree Farms is delivering baskets of locally grown, fresh fruit and vegetables to people’s doors every week, through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
The CSA program is providing hundreds of people with fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the summer and winter months.
“The customer gets a basket of fruits and vegetables [which] are coming out of the ground that week, so it always changes, week to week, what is available,” said Kelty McKay, manager of the CSA program.
The customers receive baskets full of whatever fruit and veggies are in season that week. There are a variety of 35 different types of fruits and vegetables that customers can receive throughout the year.
“We have pretty much any vegetable you can think of, it just depends on whether or not it is in season,” said Mrs. McKay.
When members are not home on delivery days, they can leave a cooler outside for the produce to go into, so it stays fresh. Many of the recipients enjoy the freshness of the food, and the delivery aspect of the program.
“People generally really like it because the food is picked the day before,” she said. “You come home from work and your fruits, vegetables, and eggs are delivered at your door.”
Bill and Mercine Okes have been recipients of the program for the past four years. They say they love the convenience of the program and quality of the products.
“It’s nice to have it delivered to the door.” Mrs. Okes said, “It keeps us off the road, we find it's busy in Port Perry.”
Mr. Okes said, he likes Willow Tree Farms because they are a very conscientious organization, and their food isn’t saturated with chemicals. All of the farms' fruits and vegetables are GMO free and their meats are free from added hormones or antibiotics. The animals are pasture raised and fed only non-GMO feed grown at the farm.
The McKay family owns Willow Tree Farms, and has developed a strong connection with the community and members of the CSA program throughout the years.
“The McKay family takes so much pride in the food that they grow, with a traditional farming approach. This makes such a difference in what they produce.” said Sherri Wood, member of the CSA program. “We enjoy everything we get from the CSA much more than what we purchase from the grocery store.”
The fruits and vegetables from the CSA program taste better than what is at the grocery store because it is picked at its peak, according to Mrs. McKay.
“We pick only number one quality, so there is nothing bad being picked,” she said. “There’s way more flavour in Ontario tomatoes and strawberries, because they are able to ripen on the plant as opposed to something that’s being picked green and shipped.”
Because the food goes directly from the farmer’s field onto the recipients table, the produce has a much longer shelf life as well, according to Mrs. McKay.
“Everything lasts way longer then if you were to get it from a grocery store because we're picking it and delivering it to you within 24 hours,” She said.
The CSA program also helps to decrease the amount of food which expires at Willow Tree Farm.
“It helps reduce a lot of food waste, because the program really helps the farmer plan out what he needs to plant. We specifically plant for the CSA members because we know they are a guaranteed customer. So, rain or shine, we can still deliver and sell our produce.”
The CSA summer program is 20 weeks long and runs from June to October. Members of the program can purchase a half share to feed a family of two or a full share to feed a family of four or more. A half share costs $465 and a full share costs $725.
If the food is picked up at the farm instead of delivered the customer gets $100 off their share.
Willow Tree Farms has recently introduced a bi-weekly winter CSA program which runs for 16 weeks, from November to June.
The farm also offers egg and meat share programs all year-round. Mrs. McKay said the farm can reimburse families who enroll, midway through the season.
To register visit the Willow Tree Farms website, at https://willowtreefarm.ca, and fill out the CSA Member Application, or pay online.
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