Great Country Farms is launching its 19th season of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) with an expanded production capacity by partnering with Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey in Clarke County.
CSAs connect farmers with consumers who sign up for a share of produce at the beginning of the season and then receive their weekly bounty from June-October. Great Country Farms has added many unique aspects to their CSA program over the years including home or office delivery, a u-pick bonus share and on farm experiences with u-pick festivals included for members.
“As the buy-local trend gains momentum and Americans are seeking more ways to connect with their farmer and food sources, CSA and U-pick popularity is growing,” said farm co-owner, Kate Zurschmeide, “We are excited to expand our growing capacity at the Abbey which will help us expand our u-pick vegetables at our home location in Bluemont.”
Holy Cross will provide land for vegetable growth and while Great Country Farms will provide labor and agricultural expertise. The monks plan to initially dedicate 110 acres of the monastery’s 1,200 acres to vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes and squash, as well as perennials including raspberries and asparagus.
The monks of Holy Cross Abbey, located east of Berryville, on the Shenandoah River, view vegetable production as part of a plan to sustain and reinvent the monastery’s way of life. The Abbey is a Cistercian house (also called Trappist) and was founded in the 1950s on the 1,200-acre Cool Spring Farm. The abbey grew rapidly in it’s first 20 years and at its height, there were 60 monks residing in the historic 18th-century Wormeley house and additions.
“The monks at Holy Cross Abbey are most pleased to partner with Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Virginia, to provide naturally grown fruits and vegetables to our local community,” said Abbot Robert Barnes. “Mark and Kate Zurschmeide have shown repeatedly these past twenty years that they understand how to coax bountiful harvests from the soil by employing environmentally sound, land stewardship practices. Finding folks that share our love for the land here in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley was an important consideration in forming this partnership together, and we feel fortunate to have met so perfect a match for us, literally just ‘over the mountain’. As spring approaches, we look forward to supporting new products on our farm, and joining with Kate and Mark as we begin another chapter in the sixty year history of Holy Cross Abbey.”
CSA sign-up for the 2012 season is open now. For additional information and details on CSA pricing and packaging please visit www.GreatCountryFarms.com. Our Lady of the Holy Cross Abbey can be reached on their new website www.virginiatrappists.org.