IMG_4192.jpg

Spring is here, and with it come the first green shoots of garden vegetables. For those who don’t or can’t garden, local farms make fresh fresh fruits and veggies available for Moab area residents. That produce may end up in your meal at a local restaurant, in the aisle at a local grocery store, or on a table at a summer outdoor market. Produce-lovers can also sign up to participate in Community Supported Agriculture.

Easy Bee Farms

“Think of it as a weekly produce box subscription that is paid for at the beginning of the year to allow your farmers to do the upfront work needed to start the farming season,” said Abby Meyer, crop manager for Easy Bee Farm, located in Spanish Valley. Each week, subscribers receive a portion of the current harvest at the farm.

Easy Bee will offer 55 CSA shares this year. 34 of those shares are for pre-sale, and 16 are set aside as “work-trade” shares, in which employees or volunteers exchange hours working on the farm for a share of produce. The last five shares will be sold individually week by week, for people who can’t commit to a whole season but would like to buy local produce occasionally throughout the summer. Subscribers can opt to have their shares delivered, pick them up at the farm in Spanish Valley, or pick up their shares at a location in town, to be announced.

New this year, Easy Bee is accepting payment through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“We have always been interested in creating better access to local and fresh produce, and offering SNAP is an amazing way to connect to the community,” said Meyer. This is the first year that farm staff felt they had the resources to undertake the process to be approved and get set up to accept SNAP. The farm also received help from staff at Utah State University and the Utah Department of Health in completing the application process and obtaining grants to cover the training and equipment needed to be able to accept SNAP. To turbo-boost the SNAP shares, Easy Bee is also using Utah’s Double Up Food Bucks program, which allows SNAP funds spent on local produce to be doubled in value up to a certain threshold. The program promotes healthy eating and supports small businesses and local economies.

The SNAP shares, rather than being paid in full at the start of the season, will be paid for through SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards every other week.

“We will work with our SNAP customers on a one-to-one basis to figure out a payment schedule that works for their specific SNAP program,” said Meyer.

In the pilot year of accepting payment through SNAP, Easy Bee is starting small, offering four shares payable through the program; one is already reserved. Of the regular payment full shares offered, seven are still available.

Also new at Easy Bee this year is the addition of online sales through the platform Barn2Door. Visit easybeefarm.com to find a link to the sales site and shop fruit, veggies, flowers, dried herbs and dried staples.

Youth Garden Project

The Youth Garden Project’s 26 CSA shares are all already reserved, but YGP Produce Manager Sarah Bowen encourages those who want to sign up to contact the garden to get on a waitlist. Waitlisters are contacted first to get on next season’s subscription; they also receive emails about extra produce that might become available throughout the summer.

Items included in the shares “rotate seasonally,” Bowen said. Early season shares include spring vegetables like spinach, greens, kohlrabi, and broccolini; followed by peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos and eggplants in summer; and cherries, apricots, and plums as the summer wears on.

YGP does not accept SNAP directly, but will have a table at the outdoor Market on Center this summer, which is organized by the Moab Arts and Recreation Center and will run between May and September. The Market on Center will have a token system that allows shoppers to use SNAP to purchase food items at the market.

The farming and education organization also donates produce to other local nonprofits Moab Valley Multicultural Center, Seekhaven Family Crisis and Resource Center, and Full Circle Intertribal Center. Surplus harvest after CSA shares are divided among these community partners.

“Whatever we have left over we bundle it up” to deliver to those organizations, who distribute it as they see fit, Bowen said.

What: Community Supported Agriculture summer produce shares

Where: Delivery options available, or pick-up from Easy Bee Farm (4065 Easy Street) or the Youth Garden Project (530 South 400 East)

When: Sign up for an Easy Bee share or get on the waitlist with YGP now

Cost: $250-$560 for a season, with various options available

Info: easybeefarm.com or youthgardenproject.org

Contact: Easy Bee at easybeefarm@gmail.com or YGP at 435-259-2326 or

info@youthgardenproject.org