We've seen farm-to-family, farm-to-school, even farm-to-office programs. Now it's time for farm-to-freezer.
Winter Sun Farm Greater Philadelphia (wintersunfarmsgp.com) is the region's first farm-to-freezer Community Supported Agriculture program. Launched by Adam and Sara Gordon of Doylestown, the December-through-April CSA offers once-a-month pick-up at locations in Philadelphia, Elkins Park, Swarthmore, Newtown, Doylestown, and Ottsville in Pennsylvania and Collingswood and Stockton, Hunterdon County, in New Jersey.
As with a traditional CSA, the key is supporting farmers by ordering and paying in advance, without knowing for sure what specific crops will be received.
Still, a typical share might include heirloom tomatoes, diced red, green, and yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, sweet corn, green beans, butternut squash, edamame, kale, and berries.
Produce is picked at the height of the season and individually quick-frozen within hours of harvest. Each kernel of corn, each green bean or berry, is frozen separately so that you can use what you need and put the rest of the package back in the freezer.
Winter Sun's large share, the Herbivore, costs $315 for the season and contains 11 frozen vegetables, one frozen fruit, and a bonus fresh item, such as arugula or radishes, each month.
The smaller Omnivore share ($175) has five frozen vegetables, one frozen fruit, and a bonus fresh item monthly.
The fruits and vegetables come packaged to serve four and are labeled with the name of the grower.
"It's not too late to sign up," said Sara Gordon, who is also on the board of the Doylestown Food Co-op, which is still in the formation stage.
Folks who sign up with Winter Sun now won't miss a month because they will pick up their December and January shares in January.
Individually quick-freezing the produce requires state-of-the-art processing and no proper facility exists in the immediate area, Adam Gordon says.
So for now, the Gordons are buying from small farms in New York's Hudson Valley because that's where Jim Hyland, who started Winter Sun Farms Hudson Valley in 2006, has a processing facility.
The couple is looking for an investor and a site to do the processing closer to Philadelphia.
"Our vision is to replicate the regional operation established in New York right here in our local foodshed," Adam Gordon said.
"With the right people involved, some time, effort and investment, we believe we will realize that vision."
Read previous stories in the series at www.philly.com/foodandfarm