Charm Farm on cutting edge of farm-to-table movement
BEVERLY — The National Turkey Federation means business when it boasts that Americans consume 46 million turkeys each Thanksgiving and 22 million during Christmas. That’s a lot of turkey to gobble about!
In this precarious time of food additives, GMO and the culpability of not really knowing where our food has been and where it comes from, it’s good to know that the farm-to-table movement is alive and well in West Virginia and within our own community.
In the past few years young, local farmers are taking up the hoe and feed bucket to bring the ‘farm to table’ option to the community — the option to choose fresh, locally-grown produce, eggs and meats.
The Charm Farm in Beverly is one of those options.
Once you prepare and serve a free-ranging, chemical-free, locally grown turkey, there’s no turning back to the mass-produced variety, the owners said.
Mike Kwasniewski is the brawn and brain behind the business operation, while his mother, Pam, offered up the 30-year family farm so he could begin the “locally grown agriculture business” four years ago.
“I wanted to work outside, work with my hands and reap and eat the harvest,” he said.
In 2012 they started the Charm Farm community supported agriculture program, or what is popularly known as a CSA.
CSAs became popular in the mid-1980s when shareholders abandoned pallid grocery store fare for fresh produce straight from the fields. No one really knows just how many CSAs there are in the United States to date, but from an income determination, statistics show that community supported agriculture increased 28 percent in 2015.
CSAs and locally grown is growing rapidly in West Virginia, as well.
The West Virginia Division of Tourism knows the value of farm-to-table.
In June of 2016 the Division launched their new online Food & Farm Trail at gotowv.com that highlights authentic culinary experiences and the growing agritourism industry.
Commissioner of Tourism Amy Shuler Goodwin said the food-and-farm experience is what visitors crave when it comes to rural life authenticity.
“Our research has shown that travelers seek out real food and farm experiences and product,” Goodwin said.
The Kwasniewskies are on the cutting edge of not only quenching the thirst of visitor experience, but growing good, clean produce to create a healthy community.
Most of the produce grown on the Charm Farm is organically certified. The meats are not, due to the more stringent certification requirements that that Farm is still investigating and working toward.
All the meats, however, come from the animals grown on the farm that are raised on chemical-free feeds such as corn and oats, grown on the farm as well.
“We grow our own feeds and grind them here, too,” Mike Kwasniewski said while walking over to the poultry barn to photograph the friendly flock of gobblers.
Mike Kwasniewski calls his mom “chief turkey herder.” It’s her responsibility to feed and water the poultry flock, plus make sure they are tucked in at night and let out to graze in the morning.
The locally grown Charm Farm turkeys are not even close to being millions in number, and never will be. The Farm raises around 60 to 100 a year from age two days (around the end of June) until they are 12-15 pounds for Thanksgiving and 15-20 pounds for Christmas.
The birds will begin to go into preparation mode this weekend and be readied for pick up just before Thanksgiving. The Christmas gobblers receive an extended one-month vacation.
Members of the Charm Farm CSA have first option by advance reservation, but Mike Kwasniewski said there’s still several more turkeys available for purchase.
The only requirement to participate in the CSA is a monthly fee which allows weekly visits to pick up produce. Meats are available for an additional cost.
There’s other Thanksgiving goodies available as well — sweet potatoes, butternuts, carrots, onions, garlic, winter squash and a variety of greens — all locally grown and chemical free.
To find directions to the Charm Farm, located just outside of Beverly on Georgetown Road, visit the web site at thecharmfarmcsa.com/contact. For updated information visit Facebook at: thecharmfarmcsa.