This pig is from Nightfall Farm CSA, one of the Community Supported Agriculture farms serving customers in the Madison area. Nightfall Farm is a meat and poultry-only CSA, while The Eaton Farm CSA raises meat, poultry and produce, and the Madison Area Growers is a produce-only CSA. They along with the Madison Farmers Market are gearing up for the summer season. (Submitted photo)
This pig is from Nightfall Farm CSA, one of the Community Supported Agriculture farms serving customers in the Madison area. Nightfall Farm is a meat and poultry-only CSA, while The Eaton Farm CSA raises meat, poultry and produce, and the Madison Area Growers is a produce-only CSA. They along with the Madison Farmers Market are gearing up for the summer season. (Submitted photo)
The season for locally raised produce is coming soon, and meat and poultry already are available.

There are several options for consumers. They include a farmers market and at least three CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture.

Madison Farmers Market

The Madison Farmers Market at the Broadway Fountain park at Main and Broadway streets has a new manager, new features and new vendor rules.

Manager Daniel Terrell said the new rules include that produce must be grown on the vendor’s property; non-produce sold at the market must be from one business; a vendor cannot buy produce elsewhere and resell it; each vendor’s business name and location must be posted at the booth; and the price of each item must be displayed.

Terrell said the rules are meant to “create transparency” to give shoppers “confidence knowing what they are buying and that it is locally sourced. …The lifeblood is the relationship between the vendor and the customer.”

The summer Farmers Market had its kickoff last Saturday. The number of vendors will increase as harvests come in. More than 30 vendors attended the annual preseason meeting, and Terrell said he has talked to 10 more since then.

The Farmers Market hours are 8 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. There will be a breakfast vendor, live music and more vendors on Saturdays.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, also from 8 a.m. to noon, produce and honey will be for sale to drive-up customers who pull over to a designated spot at the curb on Main Street at Broadway, at the southwest edge of the Farmers Market location.

The new breakfast vendor will be Johnny Jump Ups, whose owner Whitney Ernst is the niece of the previous vendors, Gary and Suzan Duckworth. Her plans and schedule will be ready in a couple of weeks, Terrell said. She will use Farmers Market produce and foods in her breakfasts, he said.

“That really promotes the other vendors as well as the deliciousness of the food,” Terrell said.

For the first time, there is a sponsor of live music, Friendship State Bank, which will provide a stipend for the musicians so they don’t have to rely on tips, Terrell said.

On Saturdays there will be activities for children.

On Facebook: Farmers Market of Madison, Indiana

CSA Clubs

Community Supported Agriculture is essentially a buying club in which members sign up in advance to receive regular deliveries of produce, meat, poultry or a combination, and sometimes eggs. They deliver orders in downtown Madison.

CSAs are taking sign-ups now. Often a CSA will limit its number of members.

One advantage for farmers of having a CSA is that they have a “guaranteed customer base,” two of the CSA spokesmen said. Knowing how many customers they have helps farmers know how much to plant or raise, they said.

CSA prices often are higher than grocery prices. Spokesmen for the three CSAs said part of the reason is that local farms are smaller than the mass-producing commercial farms, but that what is lost in economies of scale is made up in having producers and consumers near each other, use of environment-friendly farming practices and, for those that sell produce, freshness.

“We firmly believe in raising animals on pasture, caring for the land, and selling meat locally,” Liz Brownlee wrote on the Nightfall Farm CSA website. “These practices increase the amount of time and cost for us, which is why the price of our meat is higher than conventional meat in national, grocery store options. That said, we know that our meat is higher quality than conventional grocery store options, too.”

Three CSAs, in alphabetical order, are:

The Eaton Farm CSA

Eaton Farm CSA in Canaan is a market-style CSA in which members choose the items they want each week from the online offerings, spending “points” derived from what level of membership they have prepaid for.

The Eaton Farm CSA sells chicken, eggs, grass-fed beef, pork, produce and turkey.

This year, for the first time Liz and Jerry Eaton are allowing people who are not CSA members to order from their online store. Customers will pick up their orders weekly on Monday at Little Golden Fox, 602 W. Main St. in Madison. That is where CSA members pick up their purchases also. Others can stop by to see if there are any “leftovers” available, but CSA members have priority, the Eatons wrote on their website.

For more information, go to theeatonfarm.com and on Facebook: The Eaton Farm

Madison Area Growers CSA

The Madison Area Growers CSA, an agricultural cooperative, has two farmers who grow most of the produce, two who grow less, and occasionally other producers, said Laura Arico. She and her husband, Nathan, are volunteers who coordinate the growers and communicate with members.

The CSA provides sturdy bags to its members. Each Tuesday, members take their empty bag to First Christian Church in downtown Madison to turn in to Nathan Arico and receive a prepacked bag full of produce in return.

Members know what they will be getting because Laura Arico sends an email newsletter that not only tells members what will be in the bag but also gives tips for preparing and storing that week’s produce.

A CSA with multiple producers can provide a market for farmers who might otherwise not be big enough to develop a market or have an outlet for their excess crops, Laura Arico said.

“From season to season we are able to support growers who are just starting out or growers who have a very small farm,” Laura Arico said.

Sometimes, she said, a small grower who is secure in knowing there is a guaranteed market will alter their farming practices, such as using fewer chemicals.

On Facebook: Madison Area Growers

Nightfall Farm CSA

Liz and Nate Brownlee raise hogs, chickens, lambs and turkeys at their farm in Crothersville and sell them and eggs through their meat CSA and also at farmers markets including in Madison. They have a separate buying option for each product.

Members pick up their frozen meats and poultry the first Saturday of the month at the Madison Farmers Market, where non-members can buy what the farm has available such as eggs, bacon or chicken.

Connecting consumers with the farmers who raise their food is among the reasons that CSAs are a popular alternative to traditional grocery stores, Liz Brownlee said.

“People can also be sure the meat is what they want, and that they are spending their dollars in a way that they believe in,” she said. “We have some customers who are especially concerned about nitrates because they are fighting cancer. Or others who are cutting out meat with antibiotics and hormones because they have young kids. Some customers want our meat because of how we raise our animals — ethically, and in a way that’s rebuilding the soil.”

For more information, go to nightfallfarm.com and Facebook: Nightfall Farm