By Marjorie Woodfin
Pilot staff writer
For those who dream of garden fresh fruits and vegetables, but who lack the planting space or the green thumb required for growing their own, there's an opportunity to make that dream a reality while helping others fulfill their dreams.
Rich Dickson and Kathleen McKee are realizing their dream that has been five years in the making. "Today we can call ourselves truly farmers," McKee said.
Starting small, the duo will make careful use of their property just above the California border.
As a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, their OtterBee's Farm and Fungi is offering a variety of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables to CSA members, both from their own farm in Harbor and from partner farms in the Rogue Valley.
"You've seen us at the Brookings-Harbor Farmers Market since the summer of 2003, bringing fresh peaches, tomatoes, corn and more from a couple of family farms in the Medford area," Dickson said.
Beginning this year they will grow their fruits and vegetables on their own farm using a chemical-free, intensive, raised-bed system.
"We will be growing mostly cool-season crops like sugar snap peas, beets and carrots, spinach, raspberries and strawberries, and the like," McKee said. "We also plan to have cherry tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, three kinds of garlic, shallots, basil, and heirloom snap beans this year."
CSA is a unique model of local agriculture with roots going back 30 years to Japan, where a group of women concerned about the increase in food imports and decrease in farming population initiated a direct growing and purchasing relationship-between their group and local farms.
It is a partnership of mutual commitment between a farm or farms and a community of supporters that provides a direct link between the production and consumption of food.
Supporters cover the farm's yearly operating budget by purchasing a "share" of the season's harvest. The farm provides, to the best of its ability, a healthy supply of seasonal, fresh produce throughout the growing season.
Becoming a member creates a responsible relationship between people and the food they eat, the land on which it is grown, and those who grow it.
Purchase of a full $440 share will provide a variety of produce, six to 10 items, typically a week's supply for three or four people.
When asked about the unusual name, McKee laughed and said, "We were just kidding around about names, otter be good,' otter be healthy,' laughing our head off and decided to go with it. The fungi part comes from being winter mushroom gatherers."
Beginning May 30, share boxes filled with fresh fruit and vegetables will be distributed every Friday afternoon for 22 weeks. Dickson and McKee request shares be purchased by March 15 to help cover costs of getting spring crops in the ground by March 30.
A maximum of 20 shares will be sold and they have already sold 10 to clients who know them from the farmers market.
Checks or money orders can be mailed to P.O. Box 3086, Harbor, Or, 97415.
For additional information or directions to the farm, telephone (541) 661-8450.