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Subscribers get locally grown produce ready for weekly pickup

By Laura Reston
Chris Dorst
Sally Miller (right) takes a whiff of the fresh spearmint included in her box of Kanawha Valley Community Supported Agriculture produce delivered by Kelly Crane (left).

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Thursday, area residents crowded into the Charleston Mission Savvy Juice Bar and Cafe to pick up fresh, sustainable produce grown by Kanawha Valley farmers.

Each person had subscribed to Kanawha Valley Community Supported Agriculture -- a new program that plans to deliver locally grown produce to patrons once a week from June through September.

A subscription for the four-month season costs $500 for new members.

Leslie Drake, who been interested in community-supported agriculture for 20 years, chose to subscribe to the Kanawha Valley CSA because it uses local, organic, heirloom growing methods.

"Anything that has just been picked and goes straight from a farm to your hands is going to taste better and have more nutrients," Drake said.

She added that locally grown produce eliminates shipping, cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions and helping the environment.

Community Supported Agriculture provides more nutritious vegetables to the Charleston community and a steady stream of those vegetables.

"It's a great way to support local businesses," Drake said.

The program also encourages more creative ways to cook since chefs have to use new vegetables, Drake added.

Kelly Crane, who runs Kanawha Valley Community Supported Agriculture with her business partner, Terry Hudson, agreed.

Community Supported Agriculture provides more than just goods and services, Crane said. "It creates a community. People can network and exchange recipes."

Crane has appreciated how hospitable Charleston businesses have been.

"It's very collaborative, not competitive," Crane said. She calls that strategy "a millennial business approach."

She uses the same community-oriented, collaborative approach when she forms relationships with local farmers.

"They are all producers that we know personally," she said. "We have relationships with them."

Most produce comes from Hudson Farms in Big Chimney. Some items are grown on smaller, local farms like Unicorn Lane MicroFarms, which Crane runs with her husband.

Some farmers may not be "certified organic" because organic certification is cost-prohibitive for many small producers, Crane said.

But Crane verifies that each farmer adheres to organic growing practices. Given increased demand for local produce, Crane hopes that the program will only continue to grow.

Kanawha Valley Community Supported Agriculture has 20 subscriptions and Crane predicts that that figure will expand to 25 or 30 members by the end of the summer.

Crane and Hudson may extend the season through October and next year, they will begin the season in May, one month earlier than this year.

The program delivers produce to two downtown Charleston stores -- Mission Savvy Juice Bar and Cafe and Moxxee Coffee -- where subscribers can it pick up between 5 and 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

Reach Laura Reston at laura.reston@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5112.


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