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Fresh from the neighborhood

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | April 17, 2010 9:00 PM

DALTON GARDENS - Gayla Moseley smiled Friday as she watched Canfield Middle School students hang colorful canvas squares on the wired upper section of a deer fence behind her home.

Painted by the seventh- and eighth-graders, the flags will serve as a warning for hungry four-legged herbivores thinking of leaping into what will soon be a thriving community supported agriculture farm on Davenport Street.

Moseley, and her next-door neighbors, Linda and Scott Stranger, donated their unused land to the project named "The Roots CSA."

"I've just been mowing this for the last several years," Moseley said. "I knew there had to be a way to do something else with it, but I couldn't do it alone."

The project is an expansion of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance's Community Roots fresh produce collection and distribution program to feed the hungry.

"We're trying to move away from just the handouts and get people involved in actual food production," said Korrine Kreilkamp, founder of the local Community Roots program and coordinator of the Dalton Gardens project.

Unlike the traditional community garden concept with plots rented by members who plant and harvest the land themselves, Kreilkamp said the CSA model creates one large garden or farm with community shareholders who have an agreement with a farmer.

In exchange for financial support from the shareholders in the spring, the farmer commits to providing a box of produce every other week throughout the growing season.

That farmer is Caleb Goss, an experienced local grower who has been contracted to do the job.

"They used to grow a lot of foods out here in Dalton Gardens, now there are a lot of lawns," Goss said to the middle school students before they hung their flags. "This is our project to get more food growing in the neighborhood."

Since the Community Roots program began in 2007, the group has collected more than 16,000 pounds of surplus produce from backyards and farmers markets, and given it to food banks, shelters and food assistance programs.

"But we really wanted to get people more connected with the actual growing process, connecting them more with the land," Kreilkamp said. "That's what the CSA is about."

Half the shares are available to anyone in the community for $200 paid up front at the start of the season. The rest of the shares are dedicated to low-income households, and are made accessible through a discounted price structure.

St. Vincent de Paul has partnered with The Roots CSA, and is providing low-income household referrals.

Kreilkamp said the CSA will help struggling families keep healthy food on the table while involving them in the actual growing process.

The low-income shareholder subscriptions will be supported by full-price subscriptions, community sponsorships, and a significant percentage of volunteer labor.

Applications for shareholder subscriptions are being accepted through April 23.

To volunteer, apply to become a shareholder, or sponsor a low-income subscription, contact Kreilkamp at 659-0287.

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