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258626

How One Couple Took the Small-Farm, CSA Plunge

After renting land for a decade, Brad and Lyndsay Constable put a stake in the ground five years ago, buying 5 acres outside of Farmville, Virginia. 

They turned rolling hayfields into garden plots for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture they call Crumptown Farm. With their years of farming experience, the Constables were able to receive a beginning farmers loan from the Farm Service Agency, for which they are very grateful. 

“It just takes so much capital to get into farming,” Lyndsay says. “We had lots of experience and know-how, but we had no money. We were fortunate to get that loan.”

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Giammarino & DWORKIN
When the couple and their son, Ryland, 8, moved to the farm in March 2012, they had to quickly convert acres of untilled hayfields into gardens full of fresh produce for that first growing season.  

“I’m so proud of how far we’ve come really quickly,” says Lyndsay. 

Only the Best

Brad, a self-taught farmer, is extremely motivated to grow the best produce for customers. Fields are full of everything from kale to sweet potatoes, and the Constables have taken special interest in growing heirloom vegetables adapted to the local climate changes and pest problems. 

“It’s really neat to try to find regionally adapted varieties that have history in our area,” says Lyndsay. 

“Heirloom vegetables are easier to grow in the area, and their taste is often enhanced,” says Lyndsay. Nothing compares to the taste of the heirloom squash they are growing on the farm, she says.

The Crumptown Farm CSA runs for 25 weeks during the growing season. People who purchase a share collect baskets of fresh produce at one of the pick-up locations in Richmond or Farmville. The baskets are filled with whatever produce is in season that week.  

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Giammarino & DWORKIN
The Constables strive to provide a level of produce quality that is equivalent to, if not better than, what customers find in grocery stores. They take time to process their vegetables to avoid CSA members seeing dirt-coated roots on the fresh root crops. 

“Our vegetables taste better than what you can get in the store,” says Lyndsay. 

Crumptown Farm raises all food grown on the land organically, but the farm isn’t certified. “We have cultivated trust between us and our awesome customers,” Lyndsay says. Customers can be sure that what they are putting into their bodies is a natural product of the land. 

“It’s nice knowing we’re doing right by the land,” says Lyndsay. “It’s a good feeling, and that’s something to be proud of at the end of the day.”

Vegetable-Growing Tips From Crumptown Farm

  • Don’t be discouraged. “You’re going to make mistakes, and plants are going to die,” says Lyndsay Constable. “You learn from it, move on, and try to get better.”
  • Grow what you love. Plant what you are passionate about growing and harvesting. 
  • Be flexible. With ever-changing weather patterns, don’t expect to see the same garden as years past. You must be able to adapt. 
  • Try okra. “Okra is nice; nothing really bothers it,” says Lyndsay. “It’s drought-tolerant. As long as you’re in a warm climate, it’s hard to mess up.”
  • Find local heirlooms. Grow vegetables that are already adapted to the weather and pests in your area. The taste of heirlooms is significantly better than commercial varieties, says Lyndsay. 
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