Eden's Organic Garden Center
Organic Today - For a Better Tomorrow! - Since 2006
Home of DFW's first All-Clean, All Farmers - Market Day!
(no GMO's - EVER)
Eden's Garden CSA Farm
REAL FOOD, GROWN with INTEGRITY!
4710 Pioneer Rd., Balch Springs, TX 75180
GARDEN SHOP / FARMERS MARKET Open 1st, 3rd & 5th Saturdays only April - December 6th 9am - noon
Just 15 mins southeast of downtown Dallas 1 block north I20 @ Seagoville Rd.
Not affiliated with EDEN FOODS, INC
(yes, we REALLY have to put this on here.)
Follow Eden's on Facebook, Twitter and our Blog pages where you can keep up with Life on the Farm.
Eden's In the News & On-Line
Farmer Marie profiled in Green Source DFW June 29th, 2015
Growing Urban Roots - Acres USA Dec. 2014 Issue
Living Natural First Radio Interview
Featured in Edible Dallas & Forth Worth - Winter 2009
Market Day Feature Story in NeighborsGo - July 2010
D Magazine - Chefs for Farmers Launch long-table style benefit dinner at Eden's.
Market Day - Our Humble Beginnings
"...an urban country adventure." - Kim Pierce DMN
What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is, first and foremost, a relationship between the community and a local farmer for the benefit of both. It is a way to help stabilize and support a local farm near you. It is about the community supporting agriculture the way agriculture has been providing food for communities for generations by growing its food for them with the farmer carrying all of the risk.
It is almost like having your very own slice of a farm - without all of the hours of chores, mud and manure on your freshly mopped kitchen floor, late night or early morning birthing of critters and all the other fun stuff that comes with living on a farm - but, still helping carry some of the financial burden of the risks associated with farming.
Unfortunately, you won't get to experience the daily joys of watching little creatures run around catching grasshoppers, the feel of a freshly laid warm egg against your skin, watching 19 fuzzy little baby ducks following (almost) single file behind their proud momma and the other wonderful fun that come from living on a farm - except when you come pick up your "share" of it during harvest.
For a good history on how community supported agriculture got its start in the states I suggest the book Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson and Robyn Van En. Robyn's vision for small farmers was fair living wages, working conditions and respect.
Her vision also included making local, healthy organic food more available to individuals by reaching them where they live through a small, locally owned/run farm. I share that vision with Robyn. I want everyone who strives to attain better health through the food they eat to be able to afford it. This farm is located in southeast Dallas County - a virtual food desert when it comes to fresh, local organic produce.
CSA is also the only way many small farms get started, stay running and survive - especially in today's highly competitive big agri-business, flooded "local food" distributors, internationally imported cheap food and where at every turn it seems legislation is designed to challenge the small, independent farm. Many feel that today, it is through CSA programs like ours that small farmers, primarily small produce farmers, will be able to make a decent living and still keep the farm as a primary source of income to support themselves and their families as well as provide a local source of food and educational opportunity to their communities.
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Throughout our country's history, the few Americans that make up our country's population of farmers, have bore the brunt of, if not all of, the risk of growing food for the rest of the nation, often at the cost of their family, farms and lives. Today, according to the USDA, there are about 33,000 farms in this country. That's it! 33,000 registered farms; less than 2% of the total US population are in agriculture with the average age of the American farmer nearing 60.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) helps establish and stabilize small, independently owned local farms and helps to re-connect people with the way their food gets to them. Connecting the public to those that grow it, and helping share some of the risks with the farmer against things he/she has no control over - like North Texas weather, are great benefits to the CSA program.
Through CSA's, in order to provide good, clean, healthy and quality food, you the community forge a relationship with a local farmer in the way of an annual financial commitment to the farm and willingness to share in the risks as well as the rewards of the harvests. This offers an opportunity for shareholders to receive a "share" of their investment back, in the way of what is freshly harvested seasonally from the farm, in exchange for that financial commitment to the farm, prayers and hope for a bountiful harvest we can all enjoy!
The risk of farming is shared by those eating the food as well as the farmer who is working hard to grow it. CSA backing stabilizes the farmer's ability to focus on the farming and not worrying about competing with basement bargain prices of food in a market saturated by imported, factory farm foods or marketing the food.
A portion of the cost to support the efforts of the farm are divided into "shares" by committed individuals and paid for by those members who pledge an annual commitment. In turn, when the harvest comes in, shares of food are divided among those who've supported the farm, in the way of food share pick ups. When there is a lot, the shares are larger. When there isn't, the shares are smaller.
Farming is not an exact science. So much depends on the weather, from timing of the planting to harvest-ability, and preparing what is available becomes an interesting challenge to the cook of the house. Eating in season is very different for many people used to strawberries and tomatoes in December and fresh crispy greens in July.
Tree fruit, is on the crop plan sheets and will become part of the shares as available in-season in future years. Strawberries are planted each fall, melons in the spring. An edible forest of perennial fruit trees, including pears, figs, perhaps apples and peaches, blue and black berries are planned for future years through the creation of a memorial edible forest.
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Who is Eden's Garden CSA Farm?
Eden's is a small, local urban farm run by a farmer, (that's me!), with the help of work-share members and periodic volunteers and WWOOFers.
Marie, an organic horticulturist for about 20 years, turned agriculturist at the prompting of fellow farmers and friends, and broke ground at Eden's in 2008.
"My growing awareness that there is indeed a shortage of local, healthy organic produce in the DFW area and specifically in the southeastern corner of Dallas County where the farm is located; a clean/organic food desert, was the final reason I knew I needed to do this, to farm this land. I'm dedicated to making this a working farm where kids and adults alike can learn about food and farming first hand and where those interested can learn how to grow their own, prepare and store it and help themselves to a more healthful way of eating."
For more - see Where We're From.
It was a rocky first 2 years, the seasons threw everything at us from severe drought to record floods and lack of sunlit days, early heat waves to late freezes to record cold deep freezes and even a winter snowstorm that dropped a foot of snow on us, breaking records all over the area! Not to mention, good ol' over grazed sandy, red-clay soil in dire need of organic matter. But....
.....we're on the right track and things are getting better all the time! We seek the interest of a few "farmers-to-be" to come on board to help with more of the day to day tasks and help us grow more food, more efficiently and take farming to other communities some day as well as help Eden's grow so it will serve more people in the future.
That is part of this farm's mission - to help people learn to grow food and take it to more people. I also want to make the best, healthiest food available and affordable to those who really desire it for themselves and their families. It should not be easier & cheaper to find and buy junk food than food that actually nourishes your body. Our generation is leaving a horrible legacy to the one following us when it comes to unhealthy eating traits and agricultural polices.
Watch for notices about classes on basic and advanced cooking, preserving and canning, as well as basic and advanced gardening classes over the course of the year, too. Education/knowledge is power!
I believe we have a right and responsibility to take care of ourselves - this is one of the best ways
- to grow & eat healthy, clean, nutritionally dense foods.
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Is the Farm Organic?
While we do not hold an organic certification through the USDA nor plan to apply for one, rest assured we follow many of the same methods as those farmers who do, and in some cases, beyond those organic standards. The paperwork, fees and way they are watering down the rules so the corporate farms can participate just don't make much sense to me as I understand it. Many farmers, and I agree, find it odd to pay the government NOT to spray dangerous chemicals on our fields and to raise our animals in humane, natural ways without hormones or antibiotics and feed them naturally, and treat our labor well, etc. Most of our customers agree. None of us want to handle toxic chemicals and we eat our own food and most of us are self employed or have small crews we treat fairly, like family, too. You can ask what we use here, how we do what we do and we'll be happy to show you. We think you'll find you can trust where your food is grown if you choose to support Eden's Garden CSA Farm. I have used organic methods of growing since the 80's - before it was cool.
Instead, in the past I have worked with an internationally recognized grassroots program among organic/sustainable farmers called Certified Naturally Grown, (CNG) whose standards can be viewed here. As well, I belong to the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assoc., and attend the annual conference to stay abreast on the latest in sustainable farming techniques, IPM for managing pest problems and other tricks of the trade from veteran farmers all across Texas. (Find out more about it at TOFGA's website.)
Farmers I know do a lot of successful swapping of methods that worked - and didn't work, and help each other be successful without the use of synthetic products while providing annual peer inspections for donations comfortable for each farmer's budget. We grow "beyond organic" and respect the land working to keep it sustainable for generations to come.
I am committed to work within the confines of nature using natural methods such as proper timing for planting, water conservation methods, renewable energy, beneficial insect release, crop rotation and cover crops to name a few.
I have a strong desire to grow and eat only naturally grown, nutritionally dense and otherwise better than supermarket food as much as possible. That is what I grow. That is what you'll get from this farm. Some folks in our CSA family have special health concerns, allergies and strong moral philosophies about their food, and I would not knowingly introduce any methods or grow food in ways that would compromise them. I believe I have a responsibility to leave this place in better condition than I found it.
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When Do We Eat?
Do we get food all year round?
My goal is to provide a nice variety of freshly harvested, chemical free produce and herbs, with a focus on heirloom or unusual open pollinated varieties.
While we can usually grow most of the year in our area, we do not plan to have pick ups scheduled for a few weeks in the dog days of the summer months, August - September and a few weeks
"Not our typical winter scene...."
in the winter months after the holidays, January-February. However, since we are so close to most of our members, we offer a pick your own option by appointment throughout the off-season.
The weather dictates a lot when you eat directly from the farm and we take a rest from growing to plan for the next season. I will try to provide 10-12 weeks of produce each season in the form of an organized share distribution; or 30-34 weeks throughout the year. That can be more if it keeps growing, less if weather or other factors don't permit. I wish I could be more specific. I am committed to doing whatever I can, organically, to grow as bountiful a harvest as I can, but there are never any guarantees in farming. It is our desire to have as much food produced as possible in return for your investment and our hard work to get it planted and nurture it to harvest. Eventually, through the use of hoop houses and low tunnels, we can work towards extending our seasons - when more labor becomes available. This is currently a 1-full time farmer farm. And she needs a few breaks. :)
How much food is distributed is directly related to the size of the harvest in a given week and how much your family will eat in a week. While we don't weigh out shares anymore, we ask you to take what you'll use in a given week. The farm is always here if you run out of something in season and there is more to harvest. We're working on growing ample for preserving. And I'll let you know if there's a surplus of something.
Here is what "they" say the average family needs, and I try to grow enough for these goals. Keep in mind that all of these do NOT get harvested all at the same time. You will NOT get all of this at once nor do all of these grow successfully each year they are planted. It's a weather thing. Think of what is in season - 4-6 veggies and some herbs each week. In the winter, it's LOTS of greens, root veggies (and once in awhile, a random tomato thanks to our hoop house). Spring brings more greens and then as we ease into warmer months, our summer season, look for your favorites like melons, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and summer greens. Fall is a repeat of some of the summer produce and the beginning of the winter season veggies.
To help us get through the weeks we are not able to distribute full, organized shares, and as part of my desire to educate my community, I plan to hold "canning" classes so we can preserve extras as they occur - and, as mentioned above, as growing increases. We also haveheld cooking classes and share recipes and other tips with Eden's Garden CSA members and have great cooks in our midst! I am not necessarily one of them!
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Work Shares/Sliding Scale Fees
We understand that the desire to eat and feed your family quality, clean local food does not always include the ability to commit to the risk-oriented structure of CSA. In order to help exclude no one, we offer hands on opportunities to be a part of the farm process. From bookkeeping, landscaping, picking, packing and weeding to planting and harvesting and assisting with the weekly distribution and market days, work share members can learn about the farm alongside the farmers in exchange for part of their annual commitment towards their share.
*Due to the lack of this work share/sliding scale policy by utility companies, most vendors and banks, we must limit these memberships each season and balance them out with adequate full pay memberships. If you would like to sponsor a family, individual or student, please contact me directly.
We also just started accepting EBT/SNAP program funds. Due to the risk inherent with farming, we can not accept advance payments though. Please have an idea of your available budget for fresh, local food each week and commit to picking up a share of that value weekly. If there isn't a share and you're unable to pick your own, there would be no charge to your account. We know those food dollars are limited anyway and want to help make them stretch for you while still enabling you to be part of the CSA family.
Do We Have to Work on the Farm?
We have not required, but do encourage your help, at least once a season. We almost always welcome and, from time to time, do put a call out for volunteer help from our members, and any member is welcome to come out and roll up their sleeves with us. That is part of the fun of CSA - getting reconnected to where your food comes from.
Although families are welcome to participate as a group, the work share program and volunteer time is not for unsupervised children under 12, as we will not have time to entertain or supervise and there are horses in the pasture and sharp tools, fire ants, etc. Small unattended children and horses can be a less than desirable mix. You can bring your kids with you when you work, in fact, I encourage the learning experience, but please plan to supervise their visit, having them work side by side with you.
How do I Join?Join Now
Eden's Garden CSA Farm accepts applications for supporters' membership/shares as shares are open, usually in the fall when our new "year" begins. From time to time, shares come available mid-year at the start of a new season. We accept checks, cash or payment via pay pal at the start of each growing season, when shares are open. (The cost is $1200 year, paid quarterly. That's about $100 month for a full year of growing seasons as nature allows, of freshly harvested, clean produce and herbs.)
Please be sure to sign up for our informational letter at the "join now" link above and look for the application link when you receive it. We ask that you attend at least one meet and greet event and tour the farm with your family before joining. This will give everyone an idea of what they are investing in, seeing where their food is grown and meeting the farmer and some of the other friends of the farm.
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