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Support a farmer and subscribe to healthier eating

Published: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 3:19 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 25, 2013 3:33 p.m. CDT
Caption
(DOUG OLESON | doleson@shawmedia.com)
From left, Nathan Dettman, Christina Goy and Heath Johnson show off some of the produce grown and sold by Montalbano Farms in Sandwich.

SANDWICH — People make all kinds of investments – for college, vacation, retirement, even Christmas. There’s now a way to invest in the fresh, local and healthy foods your family will eat.

Christina Goy and her husband, Rob Montalbano, have run Montalbano Farms near Sandwich since 2006. The farm grows organic fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers which they sell to grocery stores, restaurants and the general public here and in the Chicagoland area, from which they both hail.

“If a vegetable is grown in the Midwest, we grow it,” Goy said.

They also participate in the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, which originated in Europe in the 1960s, and literally took root in the U.S. in 1984, thanks to Jan Vander Tuin, a bicycle designer and community organizer.

As Goy explains it, in the CSA program, people can buy “shares” of food from her farm now before the growing season actually starts.

“It’s sort of a way for people to pay up front and guarantee their vegetables,” she said.

Illinois Farm Direct, which refers to CSA as “subscription farming,” compares the program to buying a subscription for a magazine: “Instead of receiving a magazine each week, you receive a share of fresh, locally grown or raised fruit and/or vegetables.”

Through the CSA program, Illinois Farm Direct reports communities are given a chance to support their local farms while ensuring themselves fresh, healthy foods.

The program, Goy said, benefits the farmer and the consumer in many ways. One way it benefits the farmer is that it lets them know they’ve already sold so much food.

“Of course, they still need to sell more, but this is their base,” Goy said, adding the advance money helps CSA farmers plan for the season, allows them to purchase seed, make equipment repairs and more.

Consumers benefit because they know where their food is coming from, plus they are guaranteed a box – or “share” – of fresh produce through the summer and the fall. The boxes, which are all the same size, can be all vegetables, all fruits or a mixture.

A normal box of vegetables contains between 9 and 11 different types of vegetables, including most of the staples and occasionally something different. When they add something different, Goy said they include an information sheet on what it is and some suggested recipes.

During the winter farmers’ market in DeKalb recently, Goy passed out recipes for “Chocolate Beet Cake.”

A fruit box, she said, usually contains four different types of fruit.

Goy said consumers can get the boxes once a week or once every two weeks, depending on their needs.

“This forces them to eat well and cook at home,” she said.

Another benefit to consumers, she said, is lower cost, since buying food this way costs less than trying to purchase all these items at the same time in a store.

Consumers can buy shares all at one time or in installments. There’s also a workers’ share in which consumers can work on the Montalbano Farm four hours a week in exchange for the food boxes.

Goy said her farm has scheduled a number of distribution locations where consumers can pick up their boxes.

For more information, or to place an order, visit www.montalbanofarms.com.

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