As much as we love telling our story, we feel like Tom Bloomer, writer for Edible WOW Magazine did a fine job. This is what he wrote:
“In Autumn of 2006, Mary Wessel Walker was out picking leeks with friends in the field at the Community Farm of Ann Arbor (of whose CSA her family had long been members) when a conversation ensued that would become the “Genesis story” of Ann Arbor’s Community Farm Kitchen.
She recalls that another young woman, a childcare worker, “was telling us about how parents would come to pick their kids up at the end of the day and say things like ‘Oh, honey, I missed you! Let’s go get some KFC and have a nice family dinner together.’ They were so close!” Mary smiles, continuing, “They had this wonderful commitment to eating dinner together. But there was just this element of good food that was missing.”
At that time the farm, which is now in its twenty-second year of operation, was facing a challenge with its CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. As the local supply exceeded the demand, they weren’t quite fulfilling their membership potential. Every season saw a surplus; they really needed more members (typically called ‘subscribers’). “We were trying to figure out how to reach out to more people, because there are a lot of CSAs in this area – this was pre- Animal, Vegetable, Mineral and Omnivore’s Dilemma. It felt like we’d all kind of saturated the market,” Mary explains.
The discussion turned to broadening the CSA customer base to those people who were committed to environmentalism, interested in eating healthy, whole foods but just didn’t have much free, food-prep time between work and family commitments. Many, as well, just didn’t know quite what to do with this weekly bounty of fresh produce. “It’s sort of a mystery to some people, what to do with six Daikon radishes,” Mary observes with a grin.
“So we sat there talking about how it would be nice if some day, somewhere, a farm could help these people out, offer the convenience of really good, fresh, prepared dishes to its CSA members, maybe even help them make that transition step to learning how to prepare it themselves” Mary says. The then-recent Bryn Mawr College Philosophy grad suddenly had a moment of epiphany. “I thought ‘Huh, I’m not doing anything in particular right now. Why does this have to be some day, somewhere? Why can’t it be right here, right now? I can do this.’“
2007 was the first summer for the Community Farm Kitchen. Now, in 2010, we’re excited to move forward, expanding our offerings and working with more CSA farms. Thus is born Harvest Kitchen. We remain truly committed to our original vision of helping families eat healthy, locally grown, sustainably sourced food. We are also working towards a sustainable vision of farming and community—trying to be part of a food system that can last into the future.