Owners: The King Family
Season: June-October (18 weeks)
Pick-up: Saturday-Ann Arbor Farmers Market, or at the farm Saturday or Sunday
Cost: $450 for 18 weeks ($400 for pickup at the farm)
Cost per week: $25/week (or $22/week)
Growing practice: Organic practice
When Ken and Cathy King started Frog Holler Organic Farm back in 1972 they lived in a log cabin and cooked on a woodstove. The largest part of their land had been (and remains) a wildlife sanctuary. Soon they were joined on the farm by their 3 sons, Billy, Kenny, and Edwin, who have continued the farming and music-making that Ken King loved.
The Kings were the first to bring intentionally organic produce to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. And Cathy King says they were also the first to bring arugula to the Ann Arbor market in the early 1980s, and at the time people didn’t have a clue what it was.
Cathy King says they started their Frog Holler CSA in 2008 in response to the requests of their customers. Frog Holler Organic Farm, says King has “a healthy market stall and a good community there, but we had so many people ask if we had a market box. We were drawn not so much by the financial thing, but this was another interface that consumers were asking for. And there’s a creative component to it.”
So what’s that creative component? According to King “we’re designing the box within the limits of what we can grow. We’re trying to give people a really good cooking experience week by week. We’re thinking about what would be balanced, and what would be good, about recipes we like to share that we love...There’s a creativity in finding ways to interact with people and in asking what does it mean to members to be in a CSA - and what can we provide.”
Frog Holler specializes in salad and cooking greens, and one option they offer for their CSA members is the “salad share” that includes an extra portion of their locally famous mix. The salad mix, for true salad afficionados, contains already washed and torn greens, tossed with bits of herbs and confetti-like edible flowers. With over a dozen ingredients it's beautiful and colorful, and every mouthful is a work of edible art.
King says that starting up a CSA has its highs and lows, noting “we’ve found out that we like it and...it’s also a lot of work. Because we take it seriously and there’s a responsibility and we feel badly if it seems like we come up short. That’s kind of written into it. (Because of the blight last summer) it was just awful not having tomatoes last year. Awful.” But also, “we’ve learned that CSA members are really accepting and energized around food and that stimulates us. Members put their money down and said just give us anything. Bring it. That feels good.”
One thing people often like about having a CSA share is having a reason to eat their vegetables and try new things. King describes it as a sort of “health trainer in a box.” She says that at Frog Holler they’re focused on growing the things they believe in, and things that people might not already be familiar with, like the sweet white Hakurei turnips. King says “they’re a delicacy, but we don’t have time at the market to educate everyone about them. In the share we can put things that might be unfamiliar, like turnips, with a recipe, and people love it. It’s win-win-win.”
Frog Holler Organic Farm CSA members also get a couple of unique benefits - invitations to the farm for their 4th of July picnic and the “Hollerween” party. Plus, 2 tickets to “HollerFest,” the weekend-long local music, food, and community festival hosted at the farm in August are also included.