The ride out had dragged on for long enough that we began to wonder if we were lost. But lost where? Somewhere way east of Cincinnati, between Sardinia and Sinking Spring, according to the map. My friend Shannon drove as I studied the road atlas. It was sunny and hot and we were already past the two-hour mark of what we thought would be a pleasant hour-and-a-half long cruise. Our conversation had dwindled to short pronouncements. “OK. There should be a road coming up on our left.” And: “Serpent Mound is supposed to be around here.” And: “Was that a bison?” And: “I think we just went by it.”
It, in this case, was Cedarmore Farm, a small piece of land being cultivated by a newlywed Amish couple, the Hershbergers. This was (and is) their livelihood, but it was also an experiment in community supported agriculture, or CSA. Shannon and his wife Carol had discovered the Hershbergers online and had rallied enough friends, neighbors, and complete strangers to help them kick off their CSA. For about $200, we all signed on to get 20-plus weekly boxes of fresh, organically grown fruits and vegetables. For a little more, you could also get organic chickens, eggs, and homemade jams, pickled veggies, pies, and bread. What’s not to like, right? There was only one catch. This being their rookie season and them being Amish, we were going to have to take turns driving out to the farm to pick up the bounty.
Now it turns out that the Hershbergers are a sweet, earnest, hardworking couple, and despite the occasionally weird effects the weather had on our weekly installment—I vividly recall a bumper crop of onions that first year that demanded culinary inventiveness above and beyond the call, eventually leading to my wife’s one (and only) attempt at something called “onion pie”—we were only too happy to support them. But that drive! It was a haul. Google clocked it at 75 miles one way. And that was after we discovered it was faster to take Route 32 out to the Peebles exit and drive a few miles north, rather than get off near Sardinia and wander the old cow paths further east. What you lost in lush, bucolic scenery you gained in sanity, especially if you avoided the Friday rush hour snarl around Batavia.
Year Two, Shannon and Carol agreed—amazingly, chivalrously—to do the drive all by themselves each week (such was their loyalty to Cedarmore Farm). Year Three, the Hershbergers found someone to deliver the goods to their house (such was their loyalty to Shannon and Carol). Sure, the price went up a little, but it’s been worth every succulent strawberry, every orange-yolked egg, and every juicy, farm-grown tomato. Even every onion. We’ve been CSA converts ever since.
Originally published in the August 2011 issue.