Foodies are finding a new way to gather crates of unique produce — straight from the farm.

Foodies are finding a new way to gather crates of unique produce — straight from the farm.

Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is just what it sounds like. Community members support their farming neighbors by buying their weekly groceries from them.

“It’s like a subscription to farm-fresh produce without going to a farmer’s market,” said Sue Johnson of Fly Away Farms USA, a CSA farm in McPherson County. “Most of the people who do it are looking for varieties of food, so they can think about different types of dishes they can make with what’s in their crate.”

Each week, farmers like the Sue Johnson and her husband Chad curate crates of homegrown produce for neighbors who purchase a share or half share of the 18-week season.

Participants can see anything from tomatoes and cucumbers to honey and free-range eggs. Not too shabby for the Johnson’s first year.

“It’s been a pretty great year. I think its super important to give back to the community because my community is supporting men so I want to support them,” Johnson said. “Next year we’ll make some modifications and maybe change our week schedule and drop sites.”

The Johnsons are urban farmers, meaning that they produce substantial crops using smaller land parcels and responsible techniques. Fly Away Farms USA consists of about a one-acre garden, so the Johnsons make the most of every inch of real estate.

“We’re really able to do this on a small scale because we’re using a high tunnel and a lot of trellises,” Sue Johnson said. “My husband is gone often since he’s still working as a pilot, so a lot is done with one person. That’s amazing to see what you can do with a limited amount of manpower. I stand back amazed and say I just did that. People can do a lot more farming than they think.”

Sue Johnson explained that there’s plenty of manpower involved on the farm already. The Johnsons want to be good stewards of the land, so they use few pesticides and no herbicides, meaning that the garden and greenhouse are hand-weeded.

“We worked the land for three years before starting, so the more we weed, the better it will get,” Sue Johnson said. “It pays off though because we can provide our shareholders with high quality produce.”

Sue Johnson explained that aside from produce, shareholders benefit from saving about 30 percent by purchasing a share, rather than buying produce from a store.

“CSA shares are great for foodies because of the variety. It forces you to try a new vegetable in the crate that week, where you might not buy that vegetable at the store or farmer’s market,” Sue Johnson said. “In order to be healthy, we need to eat the rainbow every day — something red, something orange, and so on. That way we get every nutrient that God made, and CSAs can help you do that.”

The Johnson’s CSA season runs from May to September. To purchase a share of next year’s subscription or for more information about Fly Away Farms, visit http://www.flyawayfarmusa.net.