Utica, NY (WIBX) - Spring is in the air and for many that means joining their local community supported agriculture group. CSA's operate as a subscription service for fruits and vegetables and other locally grown crops, and farmers across New York State have been gearing up to kick off the sale of this year's harvest.

Cupboard Earth Farm is in its second year of delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to customers. Owner and operator, Jacklyn Roberts whose farm is based in Clayville, says people are catching on to it. She said,"Especially with a lot of things that have been going on, a few years back we had the spinach scare with the ecoli, you know, each year there's always something going on with a recall on some food. When you're purchasing locally, you know where you're food is from and in a lot of cases you can actually visit the farm."

The education element is also important Roberts said adding, "You learn how far your food has to travel." She said customers often wonder about certain items not being available at the local Farmers Market at the start of the harvest season. "In June people will ask, 'where are the tomatoes?' and unless you have a green house, they're not ready until at least mid-July. So, it's really educational to learn about what's grown locally and what goes into that, and how long it takes especially for the climate around here," Roberts said.

Some of the items Cupboard Earth Farm offers include, greens, lettuce, broccoli, radishes, salad turnips, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and a variety of herbs. Roberts said she also offers different pick up locations to make it easier for her customers to get their produce. According to Sustainable Table, a non-profit group whose aim is to educate consumers about the benefits of supporting their local farmers, CSA is becoming more popular.

The group says some of the characteristics of CSA's are:

  • Local farmers connect directly with consumers, which helps develop a regional food supply and strong local economy. CSA cuts out the 'middleman', which lowers costs to both farmer and consumer.
  • CSA farmers typically use organic or biodynamic farming methods, minimizing environmental pollution and encouraging land stewardship.
  • Most CSA programs offer a variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs in season. Some provide a full array of farm produce, including shares in eggs, meat, milk, baked goods and even firewood.
  • CSA helps maintain a sense of community. Some are dedicated to serving particular community needs, such as helping the homeless, disabled, or youth and low income groups.
  • CSA members purchase a share before the season starts and shoulder the risks along with the farmer.

To find a local CSA near you go to: www.localharvest.org/csa/ and type in your zip code to pin point a local farmer. For more information about Cupboard Earth Farm call (315) 796-6324 or send an email to: jackiescupboard@yahoo.com. "It's also important for consumers to keep their food dollars local," Roberts said.