Canton community farm feeding many locals, celebrates 10 years
BY CHERYL SHUMWAY
North Country This Week
CANTON -- A ten-year old community three-acre organic farm is feeding more than 150 area residents, thanks to combined efforts of its members.The littleGrasse Foodworks on Miner Street Road near the Taylor Park beach entrance is made up of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shareholders in the Canton area.
“The farm is beyond organic. It has nothing synthetic whatsoever,” said Bob Washo, who started the farm with partner Maria Filippi. It uses zero pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or synthetic fertilizers and is GMO free, states their website
“Anyone can join and become one of the shareholders of the community farm. We grow over 75 vegetables and herbs.”
Everything from culinary, medicinal and tea herbs, to mixed greens, corn, tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and other veggies are grown in the gardens.
Washo said the farm does not sell to wholesalers or farmers markets, so shareholders get the best quality produce.
“Members are always welcome to pitch in and learn more about how the farm operates and how to grow local food, but it’s not required. Many people like it as a place to expose their children to gardening without having to take that all on at home by themselves,” said Filippi.
Said Washo, “Coming to the farm is an outlet for gardeners. It is a destresser. It is exercise and the experience is healthy.” About 95% of shareholders return each year.
Shareholders can select from three produce shares. The spring/summer offering, called ‘Greens & Beyond, You Pick Share,’ gives 18 weeks of free choice harvest May through August. No gardening experience is needed; training and tools for harvesting are provided onsite.
The ‘Fresh Fall Share’ is for 8 weeks starting is September. All produce in this share is harvested and ready for pickup, 1 p.m. to dusk on Tuesdays or Fridays.
“Our ‘Homestead Bulk Share’ is for people interested in canning and freezing vegetables,” said Washo. The program is tailored to what veggies each member prefers.
“The farm offers workshops on preserving food and recipes such as hot sauce and the North Country version of kimchi,” said Washo.
Eggs and grass-fed meats from the Barton family at Eight O’Clock Ranch are also options, and they can be picked up at the littleGrasse farm. A ‘Fall Egg Share” of a dozen eggs runs for eight weeks of the ‘Fresh, Fall Share.’ The ranch sells grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, and chicken.
“Any food left over in the fall we can’t use, we barter or donate to neighborhood centers, Church and Community Program, neighborhood centers or Campus Kitchens.”
“The farm offers us a special connection to our food,’” said David Barnes, a Canton co-op shareholder. He said he likes “having intimate knowledge of what goes into the production of our food and having the opportunity to be directly involved in the process.”
Filippi (Flip) stated they started the farm “to share our love of plants by creating a welcoming place for others to experience to experience regenerative agriculture and source healthy produce, grown close to home.” She grew up on a homestead in DeKalb. She also works at Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Local Foods Program Leader and Harvest Kitchen Manager.
Washo says he is at the farm almost every day, as well as serving as a council member of the Town Board of Canton. He has over 25 years of experience in CSAs.
For more information on the farm, visit www.littleGrasse.com or ask for a tour. “I invite people to come see the farm and ‘talk gardens’,” said Washo.