Noah Shitama greeted each person who came up to his stand with a smile.
The local farmer talked to each visitor with enthusiasm, explaining how Gainesville’s community-supported agriculture program (CSA) provides the community with organic produce.
Shitama spoke to visitors as part of the Back to the Garden Community Supported Agriculture Fair at First Magnitude Brewing Company Sunday evening. As the organizer, he invited other local farmers to join him to get more Gainesville residents interested and involved with the program.
"To me it’s crucial that we demonstrate to the community that we are not competing," said Shitama, the owner of Swallowtail Farm.
The farm serves about 230 families, Shitama said. Jordan Brown, standing behind his modest table next to Shitama, said his farm, the Family Garden, serves about 200 families.
Both farmers broke into the CSA market six years ago.
The CSA program brings in about 35 percent of Brown’s revenue. For Shitama, however, he is completely dependent on his customers and the trust they have in him, he said.
Many people like supporting the local economy and farmers, said Brown and Shitama. Others enjoy the taste and health benefits of consuming organic produce.
"I like actually having things that are fresh and local," said Gainesville resident Naomi Sandoval. "I feel so much healthier."
The program also introduces customers to fruits and vegetables they may never try or see at a supermarket, said Amy Van Scoik, co-owner of Frog Song Organics.
Sandoval, a CSA customer of Siembra Farm, said she never liked beets. They tasted like dirt to her.
When she received some in her weekly pickup, though, she decided to look at recipes and settled on roasting one.
Roasted, the beet tasted sweet and was something she’d eat.
Sandoval said she likes the hassle-free process of the CSA program. Instead of having to pick out vegetables and fruits at a market garden or grocery store, Siembra Farm selects and provides the produce for her. She likes the produce better than that from the market and store too, she said.
"Everything I get here, everything is good," Sandoval said.
Noah Shitama, 36-year-old founder of SwallowTail Farm, discusses the importance of supporting local farmers at the First Magnitude Brewing Company Sunday for the Back to the Garden CSA Fair. "We do it for the families that we feed and join us at the market," he said. "The community is the heart of it all," he said.
Veronica Robleto, 35-year-old co-owner of Siembra Farms, shares information regarding the farm's weekly Community Supported Agriculture membership. The membership offers consumers a direct connection to the food they eat while also allowing the farmer to prioritize sustainable farming techniques. "It's almost like a complete lifestyle shift," she said.
Daimian Holiday Scott (center), a 37-year-old musician, talks with 33-year-old writer Elizabeth Nesbit during the Back to the Garden CSA Fair at First Magnitude Brewery Company on Oct. 4, 2015. "The event is great; it is complete with enjoyable music for a great cause," he said.