augusta free press news

The old way of doing food

It’s not quite perfect – somebody still has to drive the food to the pickup points in Lexington and Staunton each week, and most likely you’re going to drive there to get it and take it back home.

Aside from that almost infinitesimal carbon footprint, though, the Beyond Organic vegetables available through the community supported agriculture program at Cherry Ridge Farm are fresh-picked (as of the day each week the baskets are dropped off at Woods Creek Cafe in Lexington and Cranberry’s in Staunton), and oh, so good to eat.

“There’s no comparison at all. What you’re putting on the table for your children and your family is not something that has been subjected to storage, transportation, preservatives, chemicals, pesticides. It’s just like having your own garden in the backyard, but not being responsible for all that work,” said Charlie Haywood, who is back for a second year as a customer with the community supported agriculture program at Cherry Ridge in Rockbridge Baths.

Cherry Ridge owner David Beebe was into community supported agriculture before it was one of the cool things to do in agriculture. “The original CSA programs were in cities, and people would go to the farms and work the farms and then just split up what was grown and picked at the end,” said Beebe, whose Cherry Ridge program works by having customers purchase a share of the produce from Cherry Ridge for an entire growing season so that they can have a basket of goodies delivered to them each week during the growing season.

It’s a tough go on the fiscal side of things, as Beebe readily admits. “We figure a budget, figure what we have to charge to make the budget, and that includes paying the farmer for his thousands of hours of work. And building the infrastructure, which in the last 10 years has pretty much burned up all the profits. And irrigation, deer fencing, covers for the crops, equipment repairs, equipment purchases. And of course fuel and diesel. It gets expensive,” said Beebe, whose CSA farm, like others with similar programs in place, relies heavily on volunteer labor to make ends meet.

Included in the labor mix is having the customers committing a few hours each growing season to working the farm and delivering the vegetables to the stores in Lexington and Staunton. “We enjoy both the food and the work on the farm. Every kid knows it’s fun to get in the dirt and dig around,” Haywood said from the customer side of the ledger.

“I really believe that people would eat local if they knew it was available. We’re just living in a time where this is not how things have been done. People have to wake up and change gears if they want to put healthier food on their table. It doesn’t cost that much more, and it doesn’t take much more of a commitment. Just the fact that it’s available will start to open people’s eyes,” Haywood said.


More information


– Story by Chris Graham