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I have a new hero in my life. Actually, I kind of want to be her. Her name is Kelly Wood, and she is an urban farmer who somehow came into possession of five acres of wooded land just 1.5 miles from downtown Portland, Oregon. Kelly converted a meadow on her property into a .5 acre garden and, from what I have learned thus far, began by selling her produce to her husband’s coworkers. The demand grew, and Kelly took on more and more responsibility with goats, chickens, and very recently, bees. Now Kelly considers herself a full-fledged farmer, and runs what is known as a CSA: Community Supported Agriculture.

CSA is a fairly new thing. A group of interested people buy shares in a farmer’s crops, giving the farmer the financial stability needed early in the season to start growing. The farmer offers a certain amount of produce to each shareholder each week throughout the growing season. Usually, about $30 a week will get the shareholder a large bag or box full of whatever produce is in season at that point in time. There are a lot of farmers who participate in CSAs, and even here in Indianapolis you can get farm fresh produce delivered right to your doorstep. The challenge for the shareholder lies in knowing or figuring out how to use whatever you end up getting, because it’s not always a very predictable process.

The reason I like Kelly’s farm, Amaranth Produce, so much is that she keeps it small and does basically all of the work herself. She has only six shareholders, to which she provides veggies, fruit, honey, eggs, and flowers for almost half the year. That, to me, is inspiring in its doableness. Its doability. Its potential to be did.

You know what I mean.

My Big Question is: why only half the year? Every CSA I’ve come across in my (limited) internet research confines their services to a 16-, 18-, or 20-week growing season. Yes, I know that not many things grow after the first frost hits, but wouldn’t those families still like to receive goods and produce for the rest of the year? If matters of storage and licensing could be worked out, I would rather see a CSA that goes the extra mile to provide their customers with potatoes, carrots, garlic, apples, and home baked bread, pies, cookies, or even pastas, right through November and on to March.

I guess I have a lot to learn, but it seems like a good idea to me, anyway.

But back to Farmer Kelly. Not only does she live where I want to live and have the garden I would love to have, she also makes her living by writing articles and doing tv spots, like how to harvest green beans:

If hers doesn’t sound like the perfect life, I don’t know what is.

(See pictures of Kelly’s farm, Amaranth Produce, at her website.)

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