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Local residents take advantage of community supported agriculture and organic foods

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By ELIZABETH MATTHEWS

CHERRYVALE, KAN. - Living green these days means energy efficency, recycling and for some, shopping locally.  In southeast Kansas some residents are taking advantage of local, organic products.

Josh Mitchell and his family farm rely on consumers to keep them going.  The farm is a CSA - community supported agriculture - where members can pay an annual fee and reap the benefits of the crops.

"It's a unique thing in today's world to be able to come out to a place like a CSA farm, an organic farm, and know that things can be grown from the earth with natural products," says Daniel Bain, a CSA member.

The Mitchell Family Farms sits on nearly 120 acres, five of which are used for the CSA.  There are gardens and hoop houses on this property with dozens of different varieties of different products all organically grown.

"I've been able to sell all that I could raise thus far and I believe that there's a lot of potential in this area," says Mitchell.  "People are becoming more aware of needing to go more naturally without all the chemicals."

Bain is traveling eight and a half miles from Independence, Kansas to pick up his produce from the farm also picking up for four other familes.

This week's peck includes sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, smap beans mixed lettuce and garlic plus more.

"I like the variety," Bain says.  "I like the fact that Josh and his family experiment with new types of food, new types of varieties and they offer and educational opportunity."

For the 20 week season of fresh produce a full share costs nearly $400, and a half a share costs a little over $200.

Josh says the cost is relative.

"Going to the grocery store versus the CSA is not going to come out the same every year simply because some crops do well and some do not," Josh explains.

"They have provided an opportunity to the public to enjoy fresh produce that is picked immediately before it's eaten and you know where it's come from and you know it's a natural product," Bain says.

In the four years of the CSA's existence membership has greatly increased from a handful the first year to nearly 50 this year.

Josh says if his operation continues to grow anymore he may have to expand in acreage and farm hands.

For more information visit the Mitchell Family Farms Web site.

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