Think of it as a “farmers’ market in a box,” or your “weekly produce provisions,” or simply your one-stop pick-up of organic goodness.
However you phrase it, Belmont resident Linda Schild-Jones is happy to serve as your local access to farm fresh deliveries from Fifth Crow Farm in Pescadero.
And beginning Wednesday, she will do just that for Belmont residents and the greater community.
Schild-Jones is one of a growing number of members of the CSA movement, or Community Supported Agriculture, in which consumers buy a share of what a particular farm produces each week.
CSA goes a step beyond a trip to the local farmers’ markets -- its farmers pack a selection of that week’s produce into individual boxes and then deliver them to various drop-off locations around the Peninsula. Subscribers to the service simply go to that location each week (i.e. Wednesdays at Schild-Jones’ house in Belmont), and pick up their bounty.
Boxes include 7-8 seasonal items per week, and items vary from week to week. For example, this week’s box might include a baby head lettuce; a root crop vegetable (carrots, beets, turnips or radishes); a bag of pre-washed baby greens; brassica (broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi or cabbage); an allium (leeks, onions, shallots, spring onions, garlic); two baskets of strawberries; and another seasonal item, such as potatoes, poblano peppers, squash, or kale. In addition, whole grain pancake mix, blue cornbread mix, wheat berries, popcorn, heirloom dry beans or a jar of strawberry jam will be included in the box.
For an additional charge, a dozen or half-dozen eggs from heritage chickens can be included in the delivery.
“These are the best eggs I’ve ever eaten, plus they are beautiful to look at---they are brown, speckled, even turquoise,” Schild-Jones said.
“I love to cook,” she added. “And one of my favorite things to make is quiche with Fifth Crow eggs, and fresh vegetables.”
Being involved in farmers’ markets and urban farming, Schild-Jones challenges herself. “I think, ‘what will I do with this (fruit or vegetable)?’ I pull out my cookbook and try new things.”
It’s that enthusiasm for organic farming and trying new things that Schild-Jones hopes to convey to the folks she’ll meet when they come by her garage each Wednesday for their new box of produce.
Subscribers to the Fifth Crow Farm CSA service will begin receiving boxes on June 1 and for the following 20 weeks, ending on Oct. 19. The produce is picked the night before and morning of delivery, and is typically delivered to the drop off location by 1:00 p.m. Each box will contain a list of what to expect the next week.
Schild-Jones and her husband Russ moved to Belmont from their Palo Alto condominium two years ago. An avid gardener, Schild-Jones was active in the community garden scene in Palo Alto. “That’s where I cut my teeth,” she said. “It was a great learning experience.”
Once they moved into their home overlooking the canyon in Belmont Heights, Schild-Jones and her husband worked hard with the help of a landscaper to develop a terraced yard complete with raised vegetable beds, fruit trees, herbs and flowers.
Schild-Jones first became acquainted with Fifth Crow Farms on her regular visits to the Wednesday and Saturday Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market (PCFMA) at the San Mateo County Expo Center and the College of San Mateo.
A simple sign reading, “Ask us about CSA,” (Community Supported Agriculture) was all it took.
She then took a tour of local farms organized by PCFMA. The tour included a stop at Fifth Crow Farms in Pescadero, and Schild-Jones was hooked.
“I was so impressed by these young, dedicated organic farmers,” she said. “I’ve since gone back to some of their open houses, where they take whatever crops they are growing at the time and prepare a feast for their visitors.”
“Once I learned that Fifth Crow Farm was looking for someone to host a drop-off site, I said ‘Sign me up.’ I believe in what they do and wanted to help. Plus it’s a great way to meet people in the community,” said Schild-Jones.
“Part of the reason I wanted to do this (serve as a drop-off location), was because if who these farmers are. They are willing to experiment and try different things to get customers even more involved with their farm,” she said.
Fifth Crow Farm is owned and operated by Mike Irving, Teresa Kurtak and John Vars. The 15-acre certified organic farm sells to farmers’ markets and restaurants in San Mateo County, in addition to its CSA subscribers. In addition to row crops, the farm has an apple orchard and a pastured egg operation.
For Schild-Jones, being the drop-off point for subscribers is as much a way for her to weave herself into the fabric of the community as it is for her to serve as envoy for the sustainable food systems movement.
“I hope to be able to provide a positive experience for the people picking up their boxes each week,” Schild-Jones said. “I’d like to have them feel free to share photos, recipes and swap ideas. It’s up to them to decide what kind of experience they want to have.”
For more information about Fifth Crow Farm or to sign up for the produce boxes, visit www.fifthcrowfarm.com.