Join CSA and start Fall Garden to save $$$ on fresh produce

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Photo credit: New Leaf Community Garden website

By LATINA EMERSON, Shopper Deal Finder

Grocery prices continue to rise, and shoppers will need to stretch their dollars in order to feed their families. Over the past year, food-at-home prices have increased by 2.6 percent, and there doesn’t seem to be an end to the price hike.

The costs to prepare food at home are expected to increase up to 3 percent this year and between 1.5 to 2.5 percent in 2022, with prices at restaurants predicted to rise even higher, according to the Consumer Price Index. 

Consumers will need to think outside the box to reduce their food expenses. Here are some ways to save on fresh produce:

Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm Co-Op

Country Gardens Family Farm in Newnan offers three different vegetable Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) sessions each year, in spring, summer and fall. CSA members commit to buying a certain amount of produce during a particular session. 

The fall CSA lasts 10 weeks and runs from Oct. 6 to Dec. 9. The farm also has milk and egg subscriptions. 

Each week’s produce may be different, and the farm will have eight to 10 different fruits and vegetables available for purchase. Shoppers can select their produce in-person or place an order online for their items to be packaged and brought out curbside. The farm is committed to growing vegetables using organic methods and environmentally sound farming practices.

To participate, shoppers will need to sign up for a CSA membership. They can choose either a seasonal or annual membership and designate how many vegetable shares they would like to receive. A share is the average package of vegetables at the grocery store, such as one bundle of carrots. Then, shoppers will select a pick-up day, either Wednesday or Thursday between 1 and 7 p.m.

In each 10-week session, consumers can skip one week and make it up later, but they need to notify the farm in advance. 

Country Gardens Family Farm is at 2050 McCollum Sharpsburg Road (Highway 154) in Newnan. The farm also offers classes and workshops throughout the year to teach the community how to grow, cook and preserve healthy food. 

For more information about the CSA and to view the lists of vegetables produced each season, visit https://countrygardensfarm.com/csa/, email [email protected] or call 770-251-2673 or 404-944-7851. 

Grow a Fall Garden

If you have a green thumb or want to give gardening a try, growing your own vegetables is a great way to save money on fresh produce. Here’s a list of vegetables from HGTV and Good Housekeeping that can be planted in mid-to-late summer for a fall harvest: broccoli, brussels sprouts, beans, beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, collards, green onions, kohlrabi, lettuce, cauliflower, peas, kale, parsnips, radicchio, celery root, asparagus and garlic. 

Contact the Coweta County UGA Extension Office: For home gardeners who need some guidance or have questions about best practices for gardening, the Coweta County UGA Extension Office is a great resource. Call 770-254-2620 to ask experts your home and gardening questions.

Fall Gardening Tips: HGTV and Good Housekeeping offer some tips for planting a fall garden:

• Get started early. To have a successful fall and winter harvest, gardeners might need to start many late season crops in the peak of summer, which is August in most regions. Fast-growing crops like lettuce and radishes can be planted in late September, but other crops like broccoli and carrots need several months of prime growing conditions before frost and reduced daylight become an issue, according to Good Housekeeping.

• Know how long it takes crops to grow. Because the time to maturity varies by crop, HGTV recommends checking seed packages or seedling container tags to get an idea of when plants will be ready for harvest. Each crop has a predictable lifespan, and we can anticipate how long it takes for plants to reach a harvestable size. This estimate should be fairly accurate, though it will vary slightly based on environmental conditions, according to Good Housekeeping.

Some crops need to be harvested before the first frost arrives, so organize your planting so crops have time to reach maturity before they encounter cold temperatures. Check The Old Farmer’s Almanac for the frost dates for your location: https://www.almanac.com/gardening/frostdates. Then, come up with a planting date by planning backwards. Broccoli is sensitive to frost and freeze, but the crop can be covered and protected if there’s an early cold spell. Meanwhile, kale, parsnips and collards can handle the freeze.

• Harvest summer crops. If space is limited in your garden, it’s important to harvest early season crops to make room for new fall plantings. Because of Georgia’s warm weather, some summer crops might also be able to grow a little longer.

• Realize that crops last longer in fall. Cool weather allows crops to stay longer in the garden after they’re mature. For instance, broccoli, cabbage and kale can live for months after they reach maturity. Fast-growing crops like spinach, cilantro and lettuce hold their quality much longer when planted for fall harvest. Gardeners may be able to harvest from their garden through the cold season and into early spring, according to Good Housekeeping.

Find a Community Garden: If you don’t have space to grow a garden at home, consider using containers to plant crops such as herbs, lettuce or tomatoes or finding a community garden. 

New Leaf Community Garden has community garden space available in Coweta County. The nonprofit organization, which is located off Salbide Ave. in downtown Newnan, allows local residents to lease raised beds. Each box is $85 for the full year. Then, the lease will need to be renewed. All gardeners are welcome, regardless of their level of experience.

The boxes, which are made of cedar wood, measure 4 feet by 8 feet by 10 inches. Individuals leasing a bed will need to provide their own supplies, such as soil, soil amendments, compost, seedlings and plants. Since some boxes already have soil from previous use, gardeners might only need to add soil amendments. 

Gardeners will be given a list of guidelines to follow for every raised bed, including a strict no chemical or pesticide rule, to maintain the garden’s standard of being as natural and organic as possible.

To help further the garden’s mission of educating, feeding and nourishing the people of Newnan through a sustainable community garden, each gardener is asked to join one of the following groups: composting, watering/harvesting, grounds keeping and mentoring. 

For more information, visit http://www.newleafcommunitygarden.com/ or email [email protected] to lease a raised bed.

Shop Local Produce Stands

One of the most popular produce stands locally is The Veggie Patch Produce Market, located at 1502 Hwy. 29 North at the Hal Jones Road Roundabout. They carry fresh local produce which includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, eggs, Amish butter, local honey, jams and jellies, boiled peanuts and even plants, pumpkins and Christmas trees.

The Veggie Patch is open seven days a week from March to early December. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also find them on Facebook.

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