The Farmer's Daughter CSA Keeps it Fresh
Box of GoodnessMarch 2015
By Jordan Venema
Photos: Christy Canafax
The community-supported agriculture movement began in the United States in the 1980s, but CSAs are as old as the earth. Old as the earth, maybe, but still revolutionary because, like any revolution, CSAs bring us back to our roots. Fresh and local food delivered in a box: the CSA model. Our foods have grown more complicated through more remote shipping patterns and hyper-processing – genetic modification, even – but CSAs remind us that ingenuity isn’t incompatible with simplicity. Compared to the typical ingredients in processed foods, a carrot becomes something of a wonder, a rare artifact, a buried treasure.
So while most foods are moving further from us, some local farmers are doing their part to keep the harvest close to home. Farmer’s Daughter CSA of Kingsburg is doing just that, by providing its members with a customized box of fruits and vegetables grown just down the road, and delivered weekly to local pickup spots and businesses.
Kristi Bravo, the farmer’s daughter herself, started the CSA in 2010, a year after she moved back to Kingsburg. Even though Bravo graduated from Fresno State University with a degree in kinesiology, she had no problem making the transition to agriculture. She’s one of the Ks in KMK Organic Farms, which her parents, Michelle and Kyle, own and operate.“I like being on the farm,” Bravo says with a laugh, but “I learned pretty quick that I didn’t want to work for my parents.” Instead, Bravo runs Farmer’s Daughter independently of KMK. “I’m a customer rather than an employee,” she explains, and 90 percent of the vegetables offered through Farmer’s Daughter CSA are grown by KMK Organic Farms.
The idea for a CSA probably came naturally to Bravo who, growing up on the family farm, helped regularly at farmer’s markets. Even in high school, she enjoyed the environment, enjoyed interacting with customers. “(The farmer’s market) is an easy way to know your farmers and where they’re coming from,” explains Bravo, but it’s also a way for the farmers to get to know their customers, too.
That’s really how KMK Organic Farms grew and diversified — by listening to customers. The family purchased the farm in 1993, when Kyle brought his family to Hanford through a work transfer. That farmhouse had 60 avocado trees around the property… and the people that lived in the house before us, they did farmer’s markets,” Bravo says. So the family picked up where the last homeowners left off, and sold avocados on the side. And then, says Bravo, customers began asking if the Bravos would grow something else. “We got a lot requests at farmer’s markets,” says Bravo, “and my dad, he loves to grow unique things.”
Now the 90 acre farm grows almost any veggie imaginable: kale, turnips, carrots, radishes, arugula, chard and cabbages, kohlrabi, squash, mustard greens, beets and cilantro – and that’s only the winter crops. That diversity is one of the qualities about Farmer’s Daughter CSA that sets it apart. Most CSAs don’t offer a customizable box – as a CSA member, what you get is what you get. But with Farmer’s Daughter, Bravo gives her customers the option to pick what they want. “If people want to try new items, they can,” she explains.
Furthermore, Bravo doesn’t expect long-term commitments from her customers. “I wanted to make it where a college student could try it out,” explains Bravo. “If they want to order once and try us out, that’s fine, or they can order once a month or every week.” It’s that lack of flexibility that hurts most CSAs, Bravo insists.
Farmer’s Daughter CSA offers both a large and small box, with either eight or 16 units. A unit might be a pound of broccoli or a bunch of carrots, and the customer chooses those units from a list. The customized box costs a couple dollars more, but allows the box to be packed with whatever vegetable or fruit the CSA has to offer.
As with any business, customers want to relate to a product (or produce). And CSAs provide that special relationship. “People feel connected to our farm and our family” because it’s accessible, says Bravo. Her father writes a newsletter that goes in each box, and recipes can be found on their Facebook page. Customers can also also pick up their box at the KMK Organic Farm Store, where they can meet the family who farms their produce.
That’s probably the real secret to the success of Farmers Daughter CSA, and other CSAs like it — the direct connection between farmer and customer. But let’s not forget the fresh vegetables and fruit. Because really, Bravo provides the most essential product our community has to offer: food straight from our soil. Put that way, it’s like giving back to us a little bit of ourselves.
www.farmersdaughtercsa.com • (559) 994-9938
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