Last year I started to look into joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) and researched several options, but that was as far as I got. This year, I’m excited to say we joined Fresh Fork Market. And beginning in two weeks, a small bag of goodness awaits for me to pick-up every Friday in Beachwood. I’ll be sure to post about our experience, the products, what we made and overall thoughts. Do you belong to a CSA? Which one and what has your experience been?
Fresh Fork was co-founded by Trevor Clatterbuck. Keep reading to learn what he doesn’t own (that I couldn’t live without), what role Parker Bosley will play with this CSA and the most interesting (and sad) thing he’s learned since working with farmers.
1. How did Fresh Fork come to be? Myself and four other Case students were dining out at a local restaurant in August of 2007. The restaurant was advertising local foods. We were unaware of the benefit or trend and we asked our waitress what was local. Surprisingly, she came back proclaiming that they unfortunately did not have any local ingredients on the menu that night. They had issues finding farmers, knowing what was available, when, where, and how to get it to their door. We recognized this as a pain point and put together a business plan and presented it at a business concept competition. We won the competition and returned to school. Within a week we had restaurants – who we had interviewed to learn about the industry – calling asking us to get them zucchinis and squash and other produce. Right then and there, we knew we had a viable business and decided to give it a try.
2. How does your CSA differ from others? Fresh Fork’s CSA can best be compared to a weekly grocery subscription. We select products that are complimentary and therefore have many uses together. Each week we put together a package of products that includes produce, meats, cheeses, eggs, etc. all depending on what is in season and available from farmers within a 75 mile radius. Our CSA is about selection and utility. We don’t want you to waste any food and by partnering with 70 area producers we can bring you a large selection of unique products.
3. What is your favorite thing about Cleveland and what would you change if you were mayor for a day? Diversity and the people. I didn’t grow in Cleveland and I never had intentions coming to Case to stay in Cleveland. When I started Fresh Fork, I was able to really discover the city and its people. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some of the kindest and most interesting people here in Cleveland – people with ideas, adventures, and energy. If I were mayor: I’d fight to have 490 extended across to 271. That’s the most frustrating traffic pattern…getting through the heights. Or start an agricultural vocational program at the City schools.
4. How many farmers do you work with? What have you learned about these farmers that would surprise most? The number will fluctuate around 70 farmers and artisan producers this year. All the farmers don’t have products available at the same time, so it’s not too overwhelming. As for what I’ve learned, I think the most surprising thing from my farmers is that I can’t think of a single farmer whose children are interested in farming. That’s a real problem. Our schools teach every child that they need to be doctors or lawyers. There is only so much demand for doctors and lawyers, and if we ate healthier foods, there might be less demand for doctors to relieve us of our diet-related problems and attorneys to sue the doctors when they fail. I think agriculture is the one place to be for the next generation. The demand is growing and number of producers is shrinking. That’s a perfect economic situation.
5. What is the relationship between Parker Bosley and Fresh Fork? How will he be involved this year? Parker is the original Cleveland local food guru. He was focused on local before it was a trend. Over the last couple years, Parker and I have become good friends. This year he’ll be helping write recipes each week and will be sharing some of his knowledge about food and agriculture with our customers through our newsletter and podcasts.
6. Favorite restaurant in Cleveland? Wow, I don’t know if I can say. I don’t like to visit one place that often. I like variety. I live near Tremont and Ohio City, so I eat a lot at Light Bistro, Great Lakes, Touch and Flying Fig. On the east side, I’m addicted to the pizzas at Beach Club Bistro – easily the best pizza in town. And the wine dinners at the Grovewood are also some of my favorite events to go to.
7. What kinds of products can people expect on a weekly basis and how much? Last year Fresh Fork customers got over 250 different types of products. It changes each week so much. What I can guarantee is that the products will be slightly “themed” as to give you effective utilization of the basket. Examples of last year’s baskets can be viewed here.
8. What’s different at Fresh Fork this year? The only change from last year to this year is more selection, more events and more drop-off locations. The CSA is much larger. This customer base helps support more events, like a Wine Country Tour on June 20th, a Farm Tour on Sept 24th and multiple educational events and get-togethers.
9. What are the most common misconceptions around CSAs? The most common misconception is that you need to know how to cook. You really just need to be willing to try. Our CSA provides you with the building blocks – in the form of recipes and background knowledge – to become a better home chef.
10. Last meal on earth? Well, since it would be my last meal, I might as well splurge. It would probably be wild turkey breast with a buttermilk cornmeal breading and fried in bacon grease. Serve on top of a mess of ramps or spinach with tomato gravy on top. Praise the lard…that’s all I have to say.
11. What TV show do you never miss? I don’t own a TV so can’t say. I honestly don’t mind missing all TV shows!
12. What are some good tips to keep in mind when considering a CSA? Think about your diet and willingness to experiment. If you’ve always been a picky eater you may have to really train yourself to eat everything you get.
13. How can people learn more about the farmers you work with? Check out my website, join the CSA or ask me questions. We are continually adding information to the website. This summer our goal is to profile one farmer per week for the 22 weeks of the CSA.