GMO Free Idaho Business of the Month: March

On a warm Tuesday evening last September I headed to North End Organic Nursery to check out their small farmers market. That is where I met Issac Hasselblad, an organic Idaho farmer out of Eagle, Idaho  and owner of EvenStar Farms. I asked Issac if he would attend our World Food Day Rally in October and provide free samples of his fresh produce and fruit from his farm. He gladly accepted and everyone left our rally with handfuls of EvenStars fall harvest.

Evening Star Shines At the Rally

Our rally was a great success and much of it can be attributed to farms like EvenStar who showed their support for our cause and provided non-GMO foods for everyone to enjoy.

Issac runs EvenStar Farm with his wife Kristin. They care deeply about the health of our environment and are passionate about providing nutrient dense and non-toxic foods to our community. They have started a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program to make it easier for consumers to enjoy the fruits of their labor on a weekly basis. 

Jenny and I have decided to use EvenStar as our CSA this year and we look forward to enjoying food that was grown GMO and chemical free, right here in the Treasure Valley. We also plan to show you some great recipes with our weekly CSA shares.

We have plans to meet with Issac and Kristin this spring when their farming gets underway to do a video interview. Getting acquainted with your local farmers is very important and we want to give everyone an inside look on the dedication and labor that takes place at EvenStar.

I recently ask Issac and Kristin a few questions about their farm, CSA, and how you can get your hand on their fresh products this farming season. This is what they had to say:

Evening Star Interview

GMO Free Idaho: Jenny and I are very excited about getting our weekly CSA shares from your farm. Can you tell us the benefits of joining a CSA from an economical and health perspective?

EvenStar: Sure. We did the numbers from what we grew and distributed last year, and we think the CSA is a great buy! Just like buying in bulk and paying for things up front, it can really pay off. We basically share whatever bounty we have with the whole of our membership, so it varies year to year, and we are new to this anyway…but with our CSA you should receive at least a 30% discount off of what you’d be paying in the stores or farmers markets for these things.

As for health, there’s so much info on this, it’s hard to know where to start. But, I think we all know and hear all the time how incredibly nutritious leafy greens are, and we have a lot of those. Also just getting your food extremely fresh like this maximizes the nutrients as well. Being grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers is another one…meaning, the soil is nice and healthy and that health gets passed on to you through the crops. Also, just joining a CSA usually makes you eat more produce than you might otherwise! You get your bag of veggies/fruit every week, and there you go, you have to eat it or lose it!

GMO Free Idaho: On your website, you mention that starting a sustainable farm was the best way for your family to give back to the environment and to your community. We would have to agree that changing the way we farm and consume food could impact the planet in a very drastic and healthy way. Can you talk about the environmental benefits that come with using sustainable and non-toxic farming practices?

EvenStar: Well, there are many ways of course. First of all, we are not polluting our water and soil with toxic chemicals. We are not killing off our soil micro-organisms either. Helping folks get local food contributes to less fossil fuel use since conventional grocery buying involves purchasing things that are usually shipped from a long ways away. As you know, conventional farming practices cause harm to the environment as well as the people that are a part of that environment. This is especially drastic and apparent in poorer countries, where conventional ag moves in, and takes away the local folk’s land so that they can no longer grow their own food. Not only that, but the land gets abused and polluted. The people’s way of life and their health gets destroyed. Then there are the myriad of ecological connections…some of which we are aware of and many I’m sure we are not, such as the effect of pesticides, or just lack of certain ‘weeds’ or insects, and then on the rest of the food we’re dependent on those insects. I could go on, but I think I’ll stop there!

GMO Free Idaho: We love that you never use toxic herbicides, pesticides, other chemicals, or GMOs on your farm. Many of our followers know the health benefits associated with avoiding toxic and GMO foods. Have you experienced any noticeable health benefits after you started eating sustainable, clean food? You’re expecting your second child this spring (congrats!), can you also talk about the importance of leaving a healthy food legacy for our children and future generations?

EvenStar: You know, we’ve been eating a lot of organic food for a number of years, and we don’t have any particular health problems, so we haven’t noticed anything in particular this past year or so. That said, I (Kristin) will say that I’ve definitely noticed that my digestive system now does *not* like a lot of other “less pure” foods. So, I guess my body now has a higher standard for food, which is a good thing. It knows what it needs to be healthy. Doing things like becoming pregnant and breastfeeding, I’ve become much more conscious of what I’m putting in my body, since that goes directly into the making of another human being! And of course passing on the legacy of knowing where our food comes from, and what good food is, is vastly important. I *love* that our daughter goes out to the fields and picks raw kale leaves, tomatoes, and turnips to snack on. She even prefers raw kale over cooked (unlike us!). It just doesn’t get much better than that.

GMO Free Idaho: As you know, our mission is to raise awareness about the benefits of buying local, organic, and non-GMO. Our biggest goal to is pass GMO labeling laws in Idaho and eliminate them from our food supply. What do you think about GMOs and the fact that they are not labeled? As farmers, what are your biggest concerns associated with GMOs?

EvenStar: Wow, that is a big question because we have many concerns about GMOs! One of the biggest is how they effect the ecosystem in general, and the soil ecosystem especially, since more GMOs are created so that they can be sprayed with massive amounts of Roundup pesticide. We also have concerns for the health of people who eat them, as they are being shown to be linked to some serious health problems. I (Kristin) am a ecological biologist by training, so I have a fairly deep understanding of ecology, and of the fact that we have very complicated systems out there, that we still don’t know much about. I think that messing around with them in such a powerful and unnatural way is quite dangerous. There are many ways in which we’ve already messed with our ecosystems and we thought we were making an “improvement.” Most of the time, it turns out to be a serious detriment (example, many early “fisheries” experiments where we’ve introduced non-native species to various lakes and water systems).

Then there is the economic and social impacts of having large companies like Monsanto owning so much of agriculture, calling the shots, patenting genes, suing farmers because *their* crop genes contaminated ours, etc. It’s just plain creepy and wrong and it’s got to stop. I saw a poster recently, saying, “If Monsanto thinks their product is so great, why don’t they tell us when we’re buying it (label it)?” I love that. The current system makes no sense…if what they’re doing is so great, why all the secrecy? In my opinion, it’s just another indicator that what they are doing is wrong and harmful for us all.

GMO Free Idaho: One of the things we love about a CSA is trying out new foods and learning how to cook with them. Can you tell us what crops you will be growing this year and will be in your CSA shares?

EvenStar: Well, we have a pretty big list that can be found on our web site. Some of our more special things include fruits, such as cherries, apricots, plums, pears, peaches, and apples. This year we are trying out celery to see how that goes.

Here is a general description of how things went last year. Each year is a bit different, depending on the weather and what new things we decide to try growing. The season starts either last of May for first of June, with an abundance of greens such as arugula, lettuce, spinach, chard, parsley, mizuna, and kale. Also at that time we usually have yummy Hakurei turnips, radishes, baby beets, pea shoots, and bok choy or related items.

As the season progresses we move on to peas, scallions, broccoli, garlic scapes, beets, baby carrots, and cherries. Then it’s on to basil, cauliflower, cabbage, baby potatoes, collard greens, carrots, and garlic. When summer gets into full swing in July, we add to these zucchini, yellow summer squash, cucumbers, dill, onions, plums, and apricots. Harvest season really gets going in August, and here we add more hot crops, such as tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, shallots, melons, sweet corn, and peppers. Seasonal weather depending, we can add large tomatoes here too, and start digging out some larger potatoes. Toward the end we get the sweet peppers to ripen, as well as more melons (including watermelon!), peaches, and winter squash.

GMO Free Idaho: Joining a CSA is sustainable in many ways; one being it’s economical, like you mentioned. What is the price of your full and half CSA shares? And what are the details associated with joining your CSA.

EvenStar: We have half shares (designed for 2 people) for $280 and full shares (designed for a family of 4) for $450. This will likely work out to at least 30% the price one would pay otherwise.

We have two pick up locations/times. One is Thursday evenings 4-6:30 at the North End Organic Nursery, 2350 Hill Rd in Boise. The other is at our farm (3439 Shadow Hills Dr., just outside of Eagle), Thursday evenings (time is still up for grabs, but somewhere in the 4-6 pm range).

Folks can sign up on our web page: www.evenstarfarm.net and/or just send us a check with your deposit, and tell us which pickup site you’d like to use ($50 for a half share, $100 for full, due by April 31 or earlier).

GMO Free Idaho: What great information! We are very much looking forward to seeing you and your farm this spring. Thank you for the valuable service and products that you provide to the Treasure Valley.

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