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'Shop around.' Straight from the farm programs in higher demand as coronavirus and food security concerns grow

Kentucky Community Supported Agriculture programs are seeing an influx of people concerned about food security in light of COVID-19.

The coronavirus crisis is not only reminding people about the importance of local businesses, but also farmers. The pandemic has increased the interest in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

“The basic concept is that you pay your farmer up front, at the beginning of the season, and then every week for so many weeks you get a portion of the harvest,” explains Alaina Jenne. Jenne is the garden and produce manager at Ashbourne Farms.

Those who sign up get to choose from the menu list that includes produce, meats and for some farm fresh chicken eggs. Customers can get their the food via delivery or pickup.

Wednesday, workers at Ashbourne Farms in Oldham County, Kentucky were preparing this week's crop for customers who are part of the program.

For some, locally grown food tastes better.

“There's such a big taste difference between the stuff grown on the farm and the stuff you find in the grocery stores”, Jenne said.

CSAs have often been seen as a boutique option, until now. As stores get packed with people trying to stock up to flatten the curve, more and more people are turning to CSA's out of concern over the spread and food security.

“There is a bigger demand for local farms right now, and any time you see a recall on lettuce we get a lot of calls when those things happen as well,"  Jenne says.

“A lot of people have been asking the last two weeks about how they can have not only access to food but have a strong food supply”, said Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture, Ryan Quarles. CSAs are important to the community, now more than ever, because not only are you supporting local agriculture but you're also getting regular deliveries of fresh local Kentucky proud food," he added.

Alaina offers this advice to anyone considering this option, “Shop around. There are so many awesome farms in the area that offer different kinds of packages. We all grow different produce, different varieties of things, different meat options are available from farm to farm so look around at your different farms.”

Links for more information:

Ashbourne Farm

Kentucky Proud CSAs

Association of Kentucky Organic Farms

USDA info on CSAs

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