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In Enfield, a CSA offers shares in uncommon crops

  • Diana Kimball-Anderson, garden coordinator at the Enfield, N.H., Shaker Museum works in the gardens at the museum in Enfield on Monday, May 13, 2019. The museum is offering an herb and berry CSA this year, featuring some unusual and hard-to-find herbs as well as popular culinary and medicinal varieties. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • The Enfield Shaker Museum is offering an herb and berry CSA this year, featuring some unusual and hard-to-find herbs as well as popular culinary and medicinal varieties. Wormwood is one of the herbs grown at the museum, it can be used for various digestive problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms and is used as an ingredient in the spirit absinthe as well as some other alcoholic beverages. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

For some people, herbs are an afterthought, or maybe something to seek out for a special reason: an alternative medicine, a fancy cocktail.

But at the Enfield Shaker Museum Gardens, herbs are taking center stage.

For the first time this year, the museum will offer a CSA program. Instead of the typical selection of vegetables, participants will get a weekly share of fresh herbs, along with some in-season berries.

“We have everything from your general culinary herbs that most people are aware of to more obscure things … that people might not be as familiar with or are not as easily found,” said Diana Kimball-Anderson, garden coordinator for the museum. “We also have probably the biggest hedge of lavender in the Upper Valley. It is gorgeous when it’s in bloom.”

Limited to 10 participants this year, the herb and berry CSA will run from June through September and feature a variety of organic herbs, including a wide range of culinary standards, medicinal herbs such as black cohosh and St. John’s wort, fragrant herbs such as lemon balm, even dyeing herbs including false indigo and dyer’s broom. Each $75 share includes a museum membership and 10 weeks of fresh herbs, as well as raspberries and blueberries when available.

Each week, participants will receive a newsletter that tells them what’s available, along with some coordinating tips and recipes. They can then visit the museum during one of two scheduled pick-up times and choose three items from the weekly offerings. Kimball-Anderson will be on hand during pickup times to offer guidance on selecting and using the herbs.

“We priced it this year so that it’s an incredible value right off the bat,” she said. “Plus, you’re choosing them yourself.”

The herb CSA may be especially intriguing to people interested in making their own tinctures and teas for medicinal purposes, Kimball-Anderson said.

“People that are dabbling in that, those herbs can be really hard to find,” she said. “And when you find them, you’re not going to find them fresh, you’re going to find them dried … and you’re taking someone else’s word for their purity.”

The new CSA, which will double the garden’s production beds, represents a first step in the museum’s plans for growth. This year will serve as a trial to see how well the program is received and whether there’s room to expand, Kimball-Anderson said. Along with hoping to bring the production beds back to their former size, the museum is seeking ways to connect with the larger community.

“We wanted to expand our outreach, and we tried to look at different ways that that could be doable without making huge jumps,” Kimball-Anderson said. “The CSA offers one of the only ways that you can limit your customers and then expand.”

Community supported agriculture shares have grown in popularity in recent years. In 2015, about 7,400 farms in the United States sold products directly to consumers through community supported agriculture models, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. It’s difficult to determine how many area farms offer CSAs, since many are small operations that don’t advertise or register their services. The nonprofit organization Vital Communities lists about 30 farms that offer CSAs in the Upper Valley.

The Enfield Shaker Museum isn’t the only producer experimenting with unconventional ideas. Some area farms offer wildflowers, locally raised meat and even homemade jams.

Sarah Earle can be reached at searle@vnews.com or 603-727-3268.