New to the Culpeper Farmerâ??s Market this year is Willowlyn Farms in Catlett, now in its fourth growing season, offers locally grown produce at wholesale, retail, and seasonal subscription pricing.
â??We start planting in late February, early March,â? said Matt Eustace. â??The first harvest occurs in May and continues through November and December.
Eustace is a fourth generation farmer raised on Willowlyn Farms and says he uses a combination of organic and traditional growing methods to emphasize superior product quality while minimizing the environmental footprint.
â??My family was in the dairy business for more than a century,â? Eustace said. â??We sold the business back in 2005 and leased the land, not too long after that I started this farm, but started small.â?
Simply fresh. Simply local is their motto. â??And we stand by those words,â? Eustace said.
On the farmâ??s website, Eustace boasts that no chemical herbicides are used on their crops and chemical pesticides are used only as a last resort; the produce is grown with organic-composted cow manure and local water sources.
â??Weâ??ll try to plant extra stuff because we know weâ??re going to have a loss,â? he said. Weâ??ll do that rather than use chemical product, especially leafy greens, anything that you are eating directly.â?
Willowlyn Farms is a Community Supported Agriculture farm that has up to 75 CSA shares to offer. Eustace said theyâ??re getting more subscribers every year and currently have about 60.
â??I started out with the CSA model, small, just with family and friends at first,â? Eustace said, â??Itâ??s just grown every year, we are really busy now.â?
CSA is a direct connection between the farmers and the consumers through â??farm shares.â?? Before the start of the season, when the farmer is planning the upcoming year, shares are sold to members of the community at a fixed price.
Every week throughout the growing season, CSA members receive a box of that week’s harvest. The farmer gains the security of knowing he or she has been paid for a portion of the harvest and the farmer’s “community” participates in how and where their food is grown.
Eustace said all subscription holders get a fair share of the weekly harvest and receive a variety of vegetables throughout the growing season, enough for two to four adults.
Subscribers have options to purchase a full season 23 weeks (May to Nov.) pay weekly, two installments, or the entire fee up front, there are also seasonal options for summer or fall only. A seasonal subscription provides a weekly share of produce (enough for 2-4 adults) for pickup by the subscriber.
Eventually, Eustace would like to have subscriber families participate in the farming and learn all about the process. He said Willowlyn Farms is heading in that direction.
â??The most rewarding part of this work for me is the connection with community,â? he said. â??People know where their food is coming from, they love it, they say itâ??s good and tell us how happy they are – thatâ??s why I do what I do.â?