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Community farms bring local produce to shareholders

Community Supported Agriculture is growing in popularity across the state. Folks support a local farm by paying in advance for weekly drop-offs of produce.

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GARNER, N.C. — North Carolinians are joining a trend in which consumers buy their veggies before they are planted.

It's all part of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which folks pledge to support a local farm. The farmland becomes, either spiritually or legally, the community's farm.

“We know each and every one of our customers by name. I don't waste time on growing things that may or may not bring a return,” Tom Kumpf, owner of Double T Farms in Garner, said.

Kumpf has 108 customers and more on a waiting list. A full share cost $575 per growing season – approximately six months – and a half-share is $375.

“The big key is planting, planting, planting,” Kumpf said.

Customers pay in advance for Double T produce that's distributed weekly. This week, customers picked up potatoes, bok choy, strawberries, lettuce and onions at a drop-off site.

“People like to know where their food comes from. When you're buying from the farmer who drops the food off to you, you know it's not going through all this processing,” customer Jeff Woodhead said.

Kumpf said his customers frequently visit his farm to see the crops for themselves. He said CSA is an investment in which growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of farming.

“In good years and in bad, people stay with us,” he added.

Kumpf said customers value knowing where their food comes from, and he benefits greatly by not over-planting.

“It's out of the ground. It's in my hands,” Woodhead said of the locally grown produce.

Community Supported Agriculture has become increasingly popular over the years, particularly in Chatham and Orange counties. A state farming association estimates 10 percent of its members operate as CSA farms.