Local Growers Use CSAs and Other Methods to Market Their Food

In southeast Nebraska near Lincoln we are blessed with a number of local food producers. They market their food through several different methods, i.e. farmers markets, on-farm stands, CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), food coops, restaurants and grocery stores. I want to focus on two farms southwest of Lincoln that use many of these strategies for marketing their food; ShadowBrook Farm near Denton and Robinette Farm near Martell.
ShadowBrook Farm was purchased in 1996 and is owned by Kevin and Charuth Loth, Kevin’s parents and Kevin and Charuth’s three sons. On their specialty vegetable farm they grow about 10 acres of vegetables and herbs, and an acre of cut flowers and use 4 high tunnels, which helps extend the growing season. They have been certified organic since 1997. In 2006 a grade A goat dairy was added in an effort to diversify their farm economy. Charuth, a native of the Netherlands, grew up learning about raising goats and making cheese. Milk from the goat herd is being used to make a variety of different types of goat cheeses. The last few years Charuth has been visiting with cheese makers all over the world, learning how to make cheese. The name of their dairy is Dutch Girl Creamery. Currently cheese is being made at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Food Processing Center on UNL East Campus. They are currently building an on-farm cheese processing plant on their farm and ShadowBrook Farm is excited for it to be opening soon.
ShadowBrook Farm is also noted for their salad greens. They grow and sell a wide variety of greens from spring through fall. They also do an excellent job of growing several kinds of flowers, which are sold as cut flowers. ShadowBrook Farm markets their products through a 130 member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture subscription service), five local farmers markets, their on-farm store, and to area restaurants and grocery stores. To find out more about ShadowBrook Farm go to: http://www.shadowbrk.com/.
Another local food producer in southeast Nebraska near Martell that is just getting started is Robinette Farm, operated by Alex McKiernan and Chloe Diegel. They were married in 2008. They have a daughter Nina 3, and this spring twin girls have joined their family. Chloe was the field manager at an organic vegetable farm in Boulder, Colorado for several years before moving to Lincoln. Alex has a very diverse background and has worked in geology, as a diesel mechanic, an arborist and also has experience in pasture management. They began farming together in 2010 by renting some land from Sunset Farm near 84th and Havelock on the east edge of Lincoln. In the fall of 2010 they moved to their current location near Martell. Although not certified organic, they are growing all their crops using organic practices. Robinette Farms is leasing 113 acres on this farm, but are only using 40 acres for their operation. Vegetables are intensely managed on about 5 acres of land. A high tunnel was also constructed on the farm as a way to extend the growing season. Alex and Chloe grow a wide variety of different types of vegetables (40-50 kinds) that are available at different times during the growing season. Other components of the farm include, raising a small herd of sheep on rotational grazed pastures, laying hens, pastured pigs, and honeybees.
Robinette Farms also markets its food through a number of venues. They have a 150 member CSA, sell at the Old Cheney Farmers Market in Lincoln, have an on-farm self-serve store and sell to local restaurants and grocery stores. Starting in 2010, Robinette Farm has partnered with The Gathering Place, part of Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders Counties, to provided fresh, organically produced vegetables to those in need.
Robinette Farms also is hosting a summer event coming up on June 15th, called the Summer Solstice. For more information about this event go to: http://www.robinettefarms.com/solstice. They are also planning some Farm Dinners for 2013. To find more about Robinette Farm go to: http://www.robinettefarms.com/ or visit them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/robinettefarms.
We are fortunate to have an established local food producer with Shadow Brook Farm. We are also thankful we have young families, such as Alex and Chloe from Robinette Farm that are committed to growing safe, fresh local food in the area. I have included a number of photos showing different components of each farm.

Charuth Loth and her husband Kevin own and operate Shadowbrook Farm

Charuth Loth and her husband Kevin own and operate Shadowbrook Farm

Robinette #4

While chickens, eggs, pork and lamb are a part of their farm, they raise several types of vegetables in the field.

While chickens, eggs, pork and lamb are a part of their farm, they raise several types of vegetables in the field.

Here are a hog feeder and waterer and fencing for the hogs they have pastured in the timber on their farm.

Here are facilities for  the hogs they have pastured in the timber on their farm.

Robinette Farm uses rotational grazing of cool season grasses and forages for their hair sheep flock.

Robinette Farm uses rotational grazing of cool season grasses and forages for their hair sheep flock.

A lamb nurses its mother on the pasture during the spring.

A lamb nurses its mother on the pasture during the spring.

Ewes and lambs are rotated to a fresh paddock.  A llama serves as a guard for the sheep against predators.

Ewes and lambs are rotated to a fresh paddock. A llama serves as a guard for the sheep against predators.

A construction of a high tunnel was one of the investments Robinette Farm made when they moved to their current location near Martell.

A construction of a high tunnel was one of the investments Robinette Farm made when they moved to their current location near Martell.

Robinette Farm markets through a self-serve farm stand, a CSA and at a farmers market.

Robinette Farm markets through a self-serve farm stand, a CSA and at a farmers market.

Robinette Farm also have produced chickens for meat and sell eggs.  Here are chickens being raised up on pasture on their farm.

Robinette Farm also raises up chickens as layers to produce eggs on their farm.

Robinette Farms uses a greenhouse to get greens started early in the growing season.

Robinette Farms uses a greenhouse to get greens started early in the growing season.

Alex McKiernan on the  and Chloe Diegel, owners and operators of Robinette Farm host a tour.

Alex McKiernan and Chloe Diegel, owners and operators of Robinette Farm host a tour.

Flowers are an important part of Shadowbrook Farm as they market flowers both wholesale and direct to customers.

Flowers are an important part of Shadowbrook Farm as they market flowers both wholesale and direct to customers.

Kevin and Charuth take time out from their busy schedules to host a tour of their farm.

Kevin and Charuth take time out from their busy schedules to host a tour of their farm.

Dairy goats are fed grain as they are brought in to be milked at Shadowbrook Farm.

Dairy goats are fed grain as they are brought in to be milked at Shadowbrook Farm.

Charuth prepares the  nannie for mechanical milking.

Charuth prepares the nannie for mechanical milking.

Goats are being mechanically milked.  Their milk is used to make cheese that is sold locally.

Goats are being mechanically milked. Their milk is used to make cheese that is sold locally.

Shadowbrook Farm uses high tunnels to produce many flowers and vegetables.

Shadowbrook Farm uses high tunnels to produce many flowers and vegetables.

Broccoli, flowers, peppers and tomatoes are growing in a high tunnel at Shadowbrook Farm.

Broccoli, flowers, peppers and tomatoes are growing in a high tunnel at Shadowbrook Farm.

Shadowbrook Farm uses several high tunnels to raise the produce and flowers.

Shadowbrook Farm uses several high tunnels to raise the produce and flowers.

Shadowbrook Farm is noted for their production of salad greens.  They use row covers to protect the crop from insects out in the field.

Shadowbrook Farm is noted for their production of salad greens. They use row covers to protect the crop from insects out in the field.

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