About the Expert
Debbie from Wheelbarrow Farm
Debbie Kinoshita is one of three owners of Wheelbarrow Farm, located in Ontario, Canada, along with her husband Garrett Maxfield and friend, Tony Neale. She is Director of Sales and Marketing for Wheelbarrow Farm and manages the CSA program, events, and tours. With a background in sales and graphic design, her focus is behind the scenes at the farm, rather than in the field. She is also a mother to a very rambuctious 4 year old.
What led you to a career in farming?
After my daughter was born, I decided not to return to the high pressure, demanding design agency world and instead look for a career that provided more work-life balance and fulfillment. I’ve been friends with Tony since high school, and together with my husband, always talked about working together. We had an opportunity to purchase the farm as a group and build on what Tony had started 13 years ago. We each bring our own specialization to the business – Tony manages operations, I manage sales and marketing, and Garrett manages the finances.
What do you appreciate most about locally grown food?
Locally grown food allows for more traceability in our food system. We can see with our own eyes where our food was grown and who grew it. In the case of our farm, we invite customers to visit and tour the farm so they can learn about our growing practices, ask questions, and understand exactly what goes into getting vegetables from the earth onto their plate. Eating a carrot or strawberry that was just harvested hours ago is a privilege, and also tastes amazing!
About Wheelbarrow Farm
Wheelbarrow Farm is on 10 acres of land near Uxbridge, Ontario about an hour northeast of Toronto. We grow high quality, no spray, no GMO (genetically modified organisms) vegetables in a way that supports farmers, heals the environment, and builds community. Our farm runs on solar power and we have Canada’s first Solectrac electric tractor (also powered by our solar panels!). We sell our vegetables at farmers’ markets and through our CSA program.
About the CSA Program
What is a CSA program and how does it work?
By joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program you become a member and own a “share” of the year’s harvest. CSA members pay for their produce before the start of the growing season, which helps the farm with start-up funds to purchase seeds, and supplies. As a member of a CSA, you get to know your farmer and exactly where and how your food is grown.
What makes Wheelbarrow Farm’s CSA program different from a conventional CSA programs?
There are many incredible farms that have CSA programs, all with slightly different offerings. Our baskets are freshly packed the morning of delivery and often, the produce has been harvested only hours before. So you are eating incredibly fresh food! Our program has pick ups every other week, instead of weekly as we know that committing to weekly pick ups can be tough for many people’s schedules. We have many outdoor, community pick up locations across Toronto, as well as at the farm gate. We are flexible and allow our members to reschedule baskets if they are unable to pick up.
In 2020, we successfully launched an online store for our CSA members, where they can shop for add-ons to their vegetable baskets; extra vegetables and flowers from our farm, plus locally produced eggs, coffee, jams, honey, syrup, mushrooms, cheese, tofu and more!
Who would benefit most from the CSA program?
We have a wide range of members – single people who eat a lot of vegetables, families and those who are health conscious and want to eat seasonal produce that is grown locally, without any pesticides or herbicides.
Does a CSA help save money?
By pre-paying for your CSA share, you receive a 10-15% discount compared to our farmers’ market prices. We also support our members with storage tips and recipes to ensure they can eat everything in their basket and avoid food waste. Many people also find themselves trying (and loving!) new vegetables and end reducing meat consumption, which may also help reduce food costs.
How many baskets are provided per season?
We provide 12 baskets total in the regular season (May-October). This year we will have a new Spring CSA program with 2 baskets, for those who want to start early (April/May). Once the regular season ends, we offer a Winter CSA program so members can extend the season with 3 additional baskets, taking them to the end of the year (Nov/Dec).
What are some of your favourite produce items that go into the baskets?
Our farm grows over 50 different types of vegetables (plus some fruit) so it’s hard to choose! I love asparagus in the spring, sugar snap peas mid-summer, and delicata squash in the fall.
Each year we grow a few new items just for fun, often varieties you wouldn’t normally find at the grocery store.
Doe the CSA program have a cut-off date/time?
We take members up until the start of the season or until we run out of shares. Last year we saw incredibly high demand due to COVID-19 as people felt uncomfortable shopping at grocery stores and with farmers’ market closures. We sold out early last year and suggest signing up as soon as possible to secure a spot for 2021. We also offer a payment plan so you can secure your spot with a smaller deposit amount.
Where can I sign up?
Thank you to Debbie and the Wheelbarrow Farm team for sharing great valuable information about the farm and their amazing CSA program. Details and links shared in this post we not sponsored. All photos shared in this post are credited and owned by Wheelbarrow Farm. Please contact wheelbarrowfarm.com if you have any questions or distribution inquires regarding information or photos shared in this post.
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