“We believe in agriculture as a way of life and that good farming is a fundamental tenant of any society. As farmers it is our job to feed our community.”—Max and Kerry Taylor
The greenhouse at Provider Farm is filled with burgeoning seedlings. In the warmth of the hothouse, 50,000 tiny plants flourish: onion, leek, scallion, celery, celeriac, radicchio, beet, chard, tomato and fennel. Max and Kerry Taylor lease their land from three different owners and on 12 acres grow 50 varieties of vegetables and melons. But they specialize in grass-fed beef, raising their Devon cows on fresh air, and a 100 percent grass fed diet. See the benefits of grass-fed beef below:
Their farm in Salem, Conn., is aptly named; the Taylors see themselves as “Providers” for their community. “Our goal is to run this farm for the rest of our lives and then some. We want this farm to be viable far beyond the immediate future,” says Max.
The Taylors follow organic practices and operate the farm in accordance with basic biodynamic principals, viewing their farm as a whole living organism. “Soil is our most precious resource and the foundation of our farm. Healthy soil makes a healthy farm, says Max.
Their CSA (community supported agriculture), which is the backbone of the farm, runs from June until October and employs a “mix and match” system through which their members (200 shareholders) choose their own produce.
The shares are valued in an atypical way. Rather than basing shareholder price on farm market prices, which include market fees, transportation and packaging, Max and Kerry base the cost on the total farm budget, without including a profit margin. This means the members get the fresh food at a price lower than at the typical farmer’s market or CSA.
“People want quality and they want value and they want choice. You really want people who are committed to your farm,” Max explains. “If something happens—if one of the members loses his or her job or if their portfolio dives—and they start looking for ways to save money, that CSA share they’re spending $600 on a year is a big chunk of change. If we can position ourselves the way I want to, when that happens, we’re the first check that they write.”
To get a taste of what’s cooking at Provider Farm, try one of the recipes below.
—Story by Jocelyn Ruggiero, a food writer in Madison, Conn.