The promise of a typical CSA is to bring a taste of the farm into town; hauling it around town is another matter. A new mobile service from Westminster, Vermont’s Holton Farms is starting to change that. From May through November, the Holton Farms Truck is ferrying a smorgasbord of items daily to stops around Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. There, members get to stalk their preferred produce. “We thought, FreshDirect has a cool model—can you do that with a CSA?” asks Jurrien Swarts, who took over the family farm with cousin Seth Holton two years ago.
As with a typical CSA, members pay for the Truck in advance (plans start at $250). But rather than operating as a fruit and vegetable subscription, a Truck balance works like a debit account at a store: Over the summer, you spend that balance at your own pace on any of the rotating crop of fresh goods. (The farmers are currently applying for a retail permit that will also allow them to sell to walk-up customers; Swarts estimates that they currently turn away 100 to 200 potential customers each day.)
For Swarts, running a CSA in truck form also expands on the social component of the service, particularly in New York. “As a busy New Yorker, one of the relationships you look forward to is the coffee guy,” he says, and the farm’s website talks up “smiling Holton Farms employees dancing to happy reggae beats.” All of which, for the young farmer, connects fundamentally to what spreading fresh food among neighbors is really about: “You’re giving them sustenance.”
Photos courtesy of Holton Farms