Winter squash

Farmers who sell their products directly to consumers will be showcased at an event this weekend in Des Moines.

The inaugural Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Expo will be part of the 2012 Natural Living Expo taking place Saturday and Sunday at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

Ben Saunders is with Turtle Farm in Granger – one of the CSAs participating in the expo. He says, every year, more Iowans are turning to CSAs to put food on their dinner table.

“It seems like more and more people are wanting to get that connection with where their food comes from and they want to know their farmer,” Saunders says.

“Some people may have a distrust of the things they’re getting from the supermarket, so it does seem that the demand is growing.” CSA members or subscribers usually pay a fee and then, once a week, pick up fresh produce grown at a nearby farm.

Saunders says many CSA members visit the farm and help weed or pick the crops. “It’s a way for people to be able to support a farm and participate in how their food is grown,” Saunders says. “We have volunteer work days when people can come out and get their hands dirty and really…get more in touch with where their food comes from.”

The Turtle Farm in Granger specializes in certified organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. Eric Armbrecht, with The Homestead near Pleasant Hill, will be another CSA farmer showcased at this weekend’s expo.

He says members of his CSA pay a “share” of $450. In return, customers receive a half-bushel box full of fruits and vegetables once a week for 20 weeks – typically between Memorial Day and the middle of October.

The Homestead is a unique CSA because it’s a private nonprofit operation with the mission of helping autistic adults and children. Twenty-four autistic adults live and work on the farm.

For more information go to: