WESTFIELD, NJ — Five years after launching Just Farmed, a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program that delivers farm-fresh produce to neighbors' doors, Westfield mom and founder Meredith Lehman is expanding its options and its offerings, with add-ons including local honey, oils, herbs and even free-range eggs.
Customers who sign up this spring can choose to get a box of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables from 140 farms weekly week in three different sizes: Sprout (5 items for $25), Crop (8 items for $35) and Harvest (11 items for $45).
There is no contract and no fee to cancel. Customers can skip as many weeks as they like. In addition, subscribers can add a variety of in-season produce to their order as well as items such as eggs, honey, dried beans and other local products. New this year, some people will have the chance to customize their orders even further.
“We are changing our program just a little,” Lehman said. “People who order our ‘crop’ box will have the option to have us pick all eight varieties like before or those customers can have us pick five and they pick their own three other items from a larger list. It's a pilot program and we’re going to cap it for now, so it’s first come, first served.”
Just Farmed works with organic and sustainable farms in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania to bring in-season produce to customers fast — within 24-to-48 hours of picking, in most cases. The fruits and veggies arrive in reusable boxes chilled by ice mats during a time window of the customer’s choosing.
As a mom, Lehman makes sure that the wide variety of produce in her boxes appeal to people of all ages.
“Just Farmed can make eating healthy foods fun for kids," she said. "When they look through a farm box, they're often amazed at the size, shape and colors of the produce. And when they help prepare a delicious pizza made with fresh ingredients, they're excited to eat it too. They might even get more adventurous about trying new things."
With produce coming from so many sources — many of which are certified organic — Just Farmed is able to offer a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and even herbs and microgreens.
"Our box is always a culinary tasting,” Lehman said. “We sample many varieties of each produce, including several types of peppers, lettuces, beets, colored carrots, berries, stone fruits, beans, mushrooms, herbs, melons and more.”
This spring, customers can expect such treats as garlic scapes, ramps, peas, beans, asparagus, spinach and summer squash as well as melons, peaches, plums and nectarines. Eventually, in the fall, apples and pears will join the mix, too.
“Just Farmed is proud to say that many of its subscribers are chefs, gym owners and those in the health and wellness/holistic industries, which shows that the quality of produce provided meets some very high standards,” Lehman said.
Each week subscribers enjoy tips and recipes that make it easy to use several of the items in each box together. Additional printable recipes are available online at their website, JustFarmed.com.
Delivery for the 2017 season will begin during the first week in May and continue through the first half of November. To sign up, click here.
As in past years, Just Farmed is happy to supply boxes for fundraising initiatives and frequently works with local schools that can sell boxes and keep all profits. To inquire, email Meredith.Lehman@JustFarmed.com.
Here, Lehman shares one of her favorite spring recipes:
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Omelet with Spring Chives or Spring Scallions
- 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 3-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons butter, divided
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped chives or scallions
- 2-3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium high heat. Add asparagus and toss to coat and then add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Let steam until asparagus are cooked to medium firm texture, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; remove from pan and reserve.
2. Add remaining butter to pan and place back over medium-high heat. When butter has melted, pour in beaten eggs. Using a rubber spatula, gently loosen the edges of the egg as they set, tilting the pan to allow liquid egg to run underneath. Once the eggs in center have just begun to set, sprinkle crumbled goat cheese down center of omelet, then place asparagus over goat cheese and season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover pan with tight fitting lid, remove from heat, and allow heat to continue cooking eggs until almost completely set with just a thin layer of liquid egg on top (about 1 minute).
3. Fold sides of the omelet into the center to cover the filling. Gently slide onto a plate and sprinkle with chives.