Demand for local produce increases since the start of the pandemic

Local News

VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO)– Heikes Family Farms is a Community Support Agriculture program, which means community members can buy shares into the operation and get fresh produce weekly.

They serve 92 shareholders, consisting of both businesses and individuals, feeding about 500 people.

Every week, shareholders can come out and collect their produce, which ranges on everything from tomatoes, squash and even fresh fruits. Everything here is not only local, it’s raised chemical-free.

“I’ve always been concerned about where my food is coming from and the farming practices associated with the food and its production. So coming here, it’s just here. It’s just a natural extension of going to the farmer’s market,” Carol Geu, Shareholder said.

“People want to know who’s growing their food, how it’s being grown. They want to know their farmer, know their food,” Heidi Heikes, Farm Manager said. “They want to buy fresh, buy local. They are seeing shelves at stores empty and they are coming to us.”

Heikes has seen people not only from Vermillion, but also areas like Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Yankton that travel to get her produce.

They started the CSA around ten years ago and became a food hub in 2012, meaning they outsource some products from other local farmers.

This summer, the drought did take a toll. Luckily, they have a dip line irrigation system to help them get through.

“So our garden this year was a little slow, starting to get things out and you know, some things did good and some things did bad,” Heikes said.

Being a shareholder in a CSA comes with risks, but since they are also a food hub, that chance of losing everything is a little less.

“By being a food hub, you know, if we get a hail storm, or something happens to our garden, we have access to other produce and people know, and that’s the risk they take,” Heikes said.

You don’t have to be a shareholder to purchase the local foods. The produce stand is also open for direct produce sales. Volunteering on the farm is another way to get your share of the fresh products. If you are interested in volunteering, you can connect with the farm through their website.

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