People interested in buying a share of fresh produce in season from local producers through community assisted agriculture have two choices in Seneca County.
Riehm Farms on SR 53 and Seeds of Hope Farm on the Sisters of St. Francis campus are selling shares for the coming season.
Both farms cite healthful food as a major reason to buy CSA shares.
"The health benefits of participating in a CSA are access to fresh, chemical-free produce all season long," said Trish Valentine, operations coordinator at Seeds of Hope. "CSA members also reap nutritional benefits from produce that arrives directly from the farm to their table. Our produce is generally only 1 to 2 days old when delivered to CSA members and not the typically 10-day-old produce sold in the grocery store.
"Our produce has not been picked unripe, nor are there preservatives to allow for long-distance shipping or warehousing," Valentine said.
Riehm and Valentine said participating in a CSA leaves less of a carbon footprint and supports the local economy because produce isn't trucked from long distances.
"You also increase your food security by knowing exactly where your food came from," Riehm said. "Vegetables travel less miles so they're fresher. You're supporting your local community, not some country or other town in California."
Each of the CSA programs have aspects that make them different from the other.
"We are unique because we have changed our 25 years of growing for the wholesale warehouse companies to growing for the direct consumer," Riehm said. "Our standard of high quality continues to please consumers. Different from other CSAs, our greenhouse allow us to give you a full bag from day one until the end of the season.
"With interest in health, our philosophy is to not only create chemical-free food, but also build wonderful flavors," Riehm said. "We seek to put extra quality care into our soils and daily practices. We are the only ones we know who test the mineral content of our foods. So if you eat every day and you buy vegetables every week why not get the biggest bang for your buck?"
At Seeds of Hope, Valentine said CSA members have the opportunity to see the farm and experience farm work.
As an educational, not-for-profit organization, Valentine said Seeds of Hope offers a variety of educational programming in conjunction with the farm. People who sign up for a "working share" can work alongside staff members in all aspects of farm work - growing, tending, harvesting and packaging their food.
"This allows people to directly connect with their food," she said. "We also offer educational internships for individuals interested in small-scale, sustainable agriculture."
Seeds of Hope offers pickup sites in Tiffin, Findlay, Perrysburg, Port Clinton, and possibly Fremont if there is enough interest.
"I would also say that a relationship develops among members when they are picking up their produce or working on the farm," Valentine said. "They visit, share recipes and enjoy their participation in the local food movement."
Riehms have several presentations planned for people interested in more information. Sessions are planned in Bowling Green at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. March 7 at the county building, 639 S. Dunbridge Road, Suite 4, and 7 p.m. March 17 at Grounds For Thought, 174 S. Main St. In Clyde, there is a session at 5 p.m. March 2 at Clyde Public Library.
Other times and dates are planned for Findlay, Norwalk and Tiffin.