Local farmer partners with community to offer natural foods

Sometimes it’s hard to buy truly organic food and it can feel almost impossible to buy only locally grown vegetables.  But, a South Bend farmer is trying to make it easier.

Wednesdays are harvest days for Curtis Montgomery at New Road Natural Farm.  He picks plants that are ripe and ready for the dinner table for members of his Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program.  For just $400 a season, members get a weekly batch of vegetables and other foods grown at the farm.

“It works so nicely for the farmer because we get all of our income up front and we also know how many people we have to supply from the garden so we know how many crops to plant,” explained Montgomery.

Montgomery started his CSA this year and has 25 partners.  He started New Road Natural Farm with his sons, giving up 13-years living and working in Singapore, because of what he calls a danger to our food supply.

"We're down to just a few crops, corn and soybeans primarily, that make up almost our entire food chain and those are genetically modified and grown using the best chemistry available,” he described.  “We wanted to go back to a more natural approach that would've been used a century or two ago."

They grow their plants with no chemicals, buying their field specifically because it hadn’t been farmed for years and would have no residual pesticides.  The herbs and vegetables are grown from none genetically-modified seeds.

“We try to grow things you can’t find in the store on purpose.  So, we get a lot of variety of both the textures, the color qualities,” he explained.  “But, also, more important, the nutrients and the taste of these foods is fantastic.”

New Road grows over 100-varieties of vegetables and this year they’ve started growing grain.  He says with just the few acres he uses he could feed up to 200 families a year.  But, it can be difficult only eating locally grown food.

“To get back to eating locally you have to first get used to what’s in season at different times of the year and what kind of dishes you can prepare with those vegetables and herbs and meats and so forth throughout the year,” he explained.

New Road has started offering recipes on its website.  Soon, they’ll also be including meat in the foods they’re offering to CSA members.  Right now they’re raising herds and flocks of Cows, Ducks, Goats, Chickens, Pigs and Rabbits.  Montgomery cultivates his property to raise the animals in an optimal environment, the ducks have their own pond and the pigs can roam in and out of the shade in a forest setting.

New Road also takes volunteers and offers them a share of the food.  Organic food enthusiasts help pick and package food for the CSA.

"I have a passion for buying organic food and eating organic food and cleaner foods and stuff,” explained volunteer Anna Knapp.  “I just knew this was a place I needed to help support."

But, most CSA members can just pick up their share at road side stands in downtown Mishawaka on Thursdays or freshly picked from the farm on Wednesday.

"They can come out to the farm and they bring their basket and they pick up a full one, they don't have to work in the fields," described Montgomery.

This year the CSA has 25 members, Montgomery plans to double membership next year and then again the year after that.

To apply or for more information go to:  www.newroadnatural.com/

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