Where pear trees once blossomed, 23-year-old David Mostue is transplanting his family's farm into agriculture's next era.
Peas and radishes now populate part of a 3-acre parcel inside Dunbar Orchards off Medford's Hillcrest Road. The first spring vegetables and myriad seedlings represent a new community-supported agriculture program, or CSA.
"It's healthier for the farm," Mostue said.
Mostue's collaboration with neighboring Hillcrest Orchard and RoxyAnn Winery builds on a longtime relationship between the Carpenter and Parsons families, both orchardists that came to Medford around 1900.
"The families have come full circle," said Michael Donovan, managing director for RoxyAnn.
The resulting CSA will bring local vegetables, fruit, bread, cheese and wine to a select group of subscribers. Others can purchase Dunbar produce, along with Hillcrest fruit, at RoxyAnn's new daily farm stand, set to open June 18 at its Hillcrest Road tasting room.
While the concept of CSAs isn't new, the partnership between Dunbar, Hillcrest and RoxyAnn is the first to pair local produce with local wine, Donovan said. Two events — Thursday in Ashland and on May 16 at RoxyAnn — aim to educate the public on local CSAs and to garner memberships.
"They're doing a lot of specialty foods, not just fruits and vegetables," said Wendy Siporen of THRIVE, a local nonprofit coalition sponsoring the events.
CSA shareholders contribute to a farm's yearly operating budget by purchasing a portion of the season's harvest in advance, thus assuming part of the costs, risks and rewards, Siporen said. Rogue Valley residents already support five CSAs.
For Mostue, a CSA is a means to revitalizing his family's century-old farm, diversifying crops and adding value to its produce. After he studied community planning at Arizona's Prescott College, Mostue's environmental philosophies led him straight back home.
"The opportunity is just tremendous here," Mostue said. "The family is really excited about it.
"And our farm has some economic issues we have to tackle."
Employing just two people besides Mostue, Dunbar will provide vegetables, herbs and flowers between June 18 and Oct. 17. Members can expect to receive a variety of seasonal vegetables, many heirloom strains typically unavailable at farmer's markets or grocery stores. Dunbar is implementing organic practices but has yet to gain certification, Mostue said.
Partners are calling the CSA a pilot project, limited to 75 members this year. In the future, they may be able to serve more "if people recognize what a treasure they have right in their own backyard," Donovan said.
Members pick up their weekly food share Wednesdays at RoxyAnn during the 18-week CSA season. A full share is designed to supply between three and four people with 60 to 70 percent of their produce needs, Donovan said. A partial share is intended for one to two people.
A full share of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers costs $630 or about $35 per week. Adding fresh bread and cheeses from Rogue Creamery, Juniper Grove, Willamette Valley Cheese and River's Edge Chevre costs $810 or about $45 per week. For $990, or about $55 per week, full-share members receive a bottle of RoxyAnn wine every other week. Wines include 2005 Claret and Merlot and 2006 Pinot Gris and Viognier.
A partial share of produce costs $450 or about $25 per week. The bread and cheese addition is $630, and the wine option is $810.
For more information or to subscribe, call RoxyAnn at 776-2315.
Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.