Alumni grow ‘culture of appreciation’ with CSA business Q&A with Hannah Sargent of Forager Farm
BY ALISON SMITH
Hannah Sargent and Jonathon Moser are in the business of growth. Both MSUM alumni, Sargent, a 2012 mass communications graduate and Moser, a 2009 accounting graduate, are using their degrees along with their love for the land to provide quality produce to community members in the surrounding areas.
Forager Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA) business in Windsor, N.D., started last year. Sargent and Moser are looking to provide fresh, high-quality vegetables while educating individuals on where their food comes from.
Sargent describes the CSA process as, “a fancy way of saying that you subscribe to a farm, much like you would subscribe to a magazine.” The “subscription” requires an up-front payment and results in fresh vegetables delivered every week for 16 to 18 weeks. “You get seasonal, local food at a lower cost than the grocery store while also supporting a small, local farm,” Sargent said.
Vegetables include but aren’t limited to: tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, kale, broccoli, squash, beets, sweet corn, etc. Members are able to choose between three sizes of produce boxes to accomodate their own vegetable eating needs.
Q: What is the mission of Forager Farm?
A: We feel we are in the business of growing a culture of appreciation. We believe people should have a relationship with their food; one that gives back to both them and the land. Members are supporting the idea of knowing where their food comes from and being able to shake the hand that feeds them.
We live on some of the most fertile land in the world and believe our communities should eat locally grown food, not garlic shipped from China or peppers from Mexico. It’s about food, but it’s also about ideals.
Q: What started the business?
A: The biggest catalyst for us was food. We care about where our food comes from and understanding what it takes to get from the farm to our table. We enjoy food, and we enjoy growing it.
Our experience in Australia (managing a similar vegetable operation) really solidified with us that this is what we want to do this is what feels right.
Q: How have you incorporated what you’ve learned into the way your business is currently run?
A: When starting a business of any kind, especially farming, any experience you have is put to use.
We really learn and gain knowledge by doing. You can read as many books as you want on farming and learn tremendous amounts, but not until you put it into practice do you see the benefit. Australia showed us what works and what doesn’t.
Q: How do you use educational background to help run your business?
A: We both use our degrees tremendously; with my experience in graphic design and web design, I was able to create our website, Facebook and entire marketing plan (posters, brochures, etc).
Jonathon’s accounting experience allows us to handle the bookkeeping and tax requirements of the business. He is able to track our business progress to help ensure our business succeeds.
Q: Do you feel you’re getting into a profitable market?
A: Yes, but the CSA concept of purchasing directly from the farmer is uncommon to some community members. The idea is different than going to the supermarket, so there is a level of education needed in breaking into the local markets.
We believe this model produces a higher quality product due to the freshness and the farming methods used.
Q:Why would people be interested in purchasing a share when they could grow their own garden?
A: We’re not suggesting that people do. However, many people don’t have time or space to grow and tend to their own garden. We fully support anyone who wants to “grow their own.”
We feel we are the next best thing, growing and delivering local vegetables.
Q: Even though you’re located near Jamestown, are individuals in the F-M area able to receive shares?
A: Yes, we will be delivering to Fargo-Moorhead, Jamestown, Bismarck-Mandan and surrounding areas. Any members signing up now will be able to help us decide our collection points in each location.
CSA Process according to Hannah:
1. Individuals can sign up to be a member of Forager Farm and will start to receive his or her vegetable share in mid-June.
2. Members support local food and local business by paying their share directly to the farmers at the beginning of the growing season. Getting payment up front and the support of local people helps small farms to survive.
3. The farmers use the money to buy seeds and equipment and get food growing.
4. Once the food is ready for harvest, it is packed into boxes and delivered to a local collection point where members pick up their share.
For more information on Forager Farm or to sign up for a share, visit foragerfarm.com or contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org or 701-880-8223.