Teena's Pride to Redland Organics: Looking for Local, Affordable Produce, Part One

When we first heard the locavore manifesto to eat organic produce as it's seasonally available from local producers to improve your health and boost the local economy it seemed to make sense. Then we investigated the community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs across Miami and realized how expensive doing the right thing could be.

Back in 2010, and still today, there were only a handful of CSA programs available in Miami. The most notable among them are Teena's Pride, Little Haiti's Little River Market Garden and Redland Organics. Each promises weekly deliveries of organic, all-local produce during Miami's harvest season, which runs from mid-November to mid-April. The only problem is these programs are limited by how much the grower can produce, and require the money up front.

Forced to find another outlet I stumbled across Farm Fresh Miami, more of an organic buying group than a CSA, that uses locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs when they're in season, and casts it net somewhat wider when certain staples aren't being harvested.

"In 2009 we started a club, I made 500 flyers, went door-to-door and we start our first group with 15 people," said Farm Fresh Miami Founder Erika Rullman Lisman. "We were basically driving down to the Redlands, picking up a bunch of stuff, bringing it back and divvying it up."

Farm Fresh offers 30-pound full shares ($66) and 15-pound half share ($33) deliveries every two weeks. You select where across Miami you'd like to pick up your goods. A few days before pickup you get an email announcing "What's Fresh" this week, where the produce came from and a list of simple recipes to help you make use of the less familiar items. From the get go they allowed buyers to pay as they go, eliminating the need to sell plasma to cover that season's produce.

During my first months in Farm Fresh there were about 10 groups spread out across Miami where people could pick up their produce, Today, Rullman said, there's more than 30 locations and estimates 600 families are picking up vegetables every two weeks. Still it's a small operation with all but three people with a cast of characters from Miami's music and arts scene -- including Otto Von Schirach and the TM Sisters -- who help divvy up the goods.

Tomorrow we look at Farm Fresh's sourcing strategies, and what comes next.

For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.

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