MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While many farmers have been hit hard by the pandemic, unable to sell to restaurants, another type of farming is thriving.

“We have been seeing a lot of interest in CSA farming this year,” said Lauren Barry, the owner of Dancing Gnome Farms in Wabasha, who has been busy getting all her veggies ready to meet a large demand that her small farm isn’t used to.

CSA stands for “consumer supported agriculture,” where Minnesota farmers mail fresh produce directly to their consumers.

“In terms of shortening supply chains, this is one link between your farm and your table,” Barry said.

This spring, Dancing Gnome Farms maxed out of their CSA shares for the first time. Last spring they had about 20 CSA customers and this year they have 50.

“We expanded our CSA, so we’re 2.5 times the shares we had last year,” said Barry.

Once Barry harvests her veggies, she brings over to a packaging room, where she washes, dries and packs fresh produce kits that include recipes.

“It’s getting to you from the farm within a day or two and often folks tell us it lasts for two to three weeks,” said Barry.

Barry says a high demand in CSA sales will likely balance out the drop in sales they will see at summer farmers markets this year.

”Part of our decision to open up our CSA to more members this year was directly in response to having a little more guarantee to where our veggies were going to go this summer,” Barry said.

In a time when we’re all craving more connections, this is one way to feel connected to your farmer.

“We’re still out here growing for you,” Barry said. “We want to get you your produce and we want to make you feel safe in the process,” said Barry.

Even though Dancing Gnome is capped out on CSA members for spring and summer, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture says half of the farms in the state still have CSA shares available to buy. Click here to find which farms still have CSAs available.

Marielle Mohs