One Orange County farm that is helping growers sell what they sow as farmer’s markets are closing down, leaving a bevy of organic fruit and veggies once destined for sale.
Think of the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano as part farm part fruit stand, and now it may be the ultimate co-op.
Nearly 20 of the 28 acres there are planted with crops, everything from cabbage to kale to carrots, and, of course, strawberries.
Many of the fruits and vegetables were destined for farmer’s markets, now closed due to coronavirus concerns. Instead the greens are being packaged up in a sort of organic surprise box.
“They put 15 items in a box and you get what you get,” said Beth Patt, a customer.
The center has been selling its home-grown food for years and is now reaching out to other farmers to help them sell their wares, with a true farm-to-table goal.
“There are many of our farm friends who didn’t have an outlet or a relationship like we do so we’re able to mass produce all those items together as one,” said Evan Marks, of the Ecology Center. “It’s called farm share and we’re packing about 1,000 boxes per week.”
That’s five times more than before the virus hit. The boxes cost $38 a piece, are available only online and usually sell out in an hour.
The fresh produce is also being shared with Project Hope Alliance which helps low-income families. Organizers expect the need to quadruple this year. So once a week they bring organic goods to homes with no way to cook.
More meals are shared with the local senior center, which happens to be the only other building on the property.