For the past year, our family has been a member of the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through Snow’s Bend Farm, located in Tuscaloosa. You may have seen Snow’s Bend at your local Farmer’s Market or sampled their goods at area restaurants. CSAs work by soliciting financial support from community members in order to run their farm. In return, those supporters get a share of the bounty during the growing season. Read here for more on how CSAs work and go here for a list of local options. Every Thursday, we’re able to walk or drive to a drop-off location near our house to pick up our box of fresh fruits and veggies. This year, we’re excited to also receive flowers and pork straight from the farm. We had the opportunity to meet the Snow’s Bend farmers – David and Margaret Ann Snow – at a local event in the fall. They invited us to come visit the farm so we took a day over spring break to do just that!
Ahead of time Margaret Ann warned us, “Getting lost is half the fun!” and we did have some fun on the way there but eventually found the farm. The family lives in the city so there is no house on the main property – just a large covered work area and two greenhouses, with another in the works. Margaret Ann welcomed us with news my kids were hoping for: the workers had harvested strawberries the day before but left us several to pick. If anything tastes better than a ripe, sun-warmed strawberry right off the plant, I don’t know what it is. We picked and ate strawberries until the beautiful red ones were gone, and then went to check out what else was growing. Margaret Ann pointed out the different areas where spring, summer, and fall fruits and veggies would be grown, and how they grow the same plants at various stages so they don’t all mature at once. We got to taste kale flowers (spoiler: they taste exactly like kale) and green onions right out of the ground. The kids really enjoyed getting to try Sorrel, which rivals their beloved Sour Patch Kids in tartness. In all, Snow’s Bend grows more than 50 different organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs, on their 10-acre property.
We dodged wasps while walking through the greenhouses where a variety of plants like radishes, onions, and tomatoes were growing. P.S. Greenhouses are really hot. Greenhouses in Alabama are ridiculously hot. Don’t look for me there in the middle of July. We talked about the purposes of greenhouses, which even led to a conversation about how greenhouse gases work in the atmosphere. The farm also hosts several beehives, which we enjoyed looking at from a safe distance. At first, I got too close and a bee flew directly into my eye to warn me away; fortunately, I was wearing sunglasses!
Before we left, we had to check out a favorite area of the Snows’ kids: the “beach.” About 200 yards from the farm and through some woods was a small, sandy area bordering the Black Warrior River. Snow’s Bend Farm’s location along the banks of this river has many advantages but they have had to canoe in to work before due to flooding! My kids enjoyed wading into the river and doing handstands on the sand, and were a little upset with us for not bringing their bathing suits. (Note to self: Bring bathing suits to the farm?). Dirty but happy, we headed back to the car and left for Birmingham, stopping for ice cream and to play on the (surely unsafe) playground at Snow Hinton Park on the way out of town.
If you haven’t yet joined a CSA, consider doing so. Research finds that kids are more likely to eat and enjoy a variety of foods when their families buy locally-grown, in-season fruits and veggies, and CSAs provide a convenient way to do that. If you’re intimidated by the idea of cooking things like rainbow chard, know that CSAs give great support in helping you find creative ways to serve the foods they bring you. Joining a CSA can create great opportunities to connect you and your kids with the food you eat and might even lead to a fun family field trip!
To learn more about how food and local farms can impact our environment make sure to check out our Earth Month Tips on Food Waste.
Kristen is a local Mom to three, ages 12, 9 and almost 6. She’s the author of our Parenting with a PhD series who also happens to have a passion for educating others about the benefits of living a greener life. She hopes that leading by example will encourage others to try some alternate ways of shopping, and incorporating small changes that can make a big impact on our future.