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Home arrow News arrow Business & Ag Life arrow Baker County vegetable farm offers weekly boxes of fresh, local food

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Baker County vegetable farm offers weekly boxes of fresh, local food

Valerie and Rod Tachenko operate a 13-acre vegetable farm south of Medical Springs.
Valerie and Rod Tachenko operate a 13-acre vegetable farm south of Medical Springs.

This spring the water isn’t the only thing that is hot in Medical Springs — dozens of varieties of chilies grown on Val’s Veggies farm give off plenty of heat, too.  

Valerie and Rod Tachenko’s 13-acre vegetable farm south of Medical Springs in Baker County produces 58 varieties of chilies and peppers, not to mention 146 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, 72 types of squash, greens, cabbage, broccoli, beets, beans, cucumbers, herbs, garlic and okra, just to name a few. 

The Tachenkos focus on selling their food locally at farmers markets, their farmstand in Baker and through their Community Supported Agriculture program, which is a new concept to many in Eastern Oregon.

In recent years, CSA programs have taken off in many cities in Oregon. The concept is that people become “members” of the farm and receive weekly boxes of fresh local food. CSA members pay for a season’s worth of food up front, which guarantees them a good price, the first pick from the farm, reliability and convenience. CSAs benefit growers by providing reliable business and operating money in the spring. 

“Buying a CSA share is sort of like buying a quarter beef in the fall,” said Nella Parks, who works with Val’s Veggies. “You pay up front for all your fresh vegetables and they are delivered to you each week, locally grown and freshly picked. When you have to stare down a whole box of fresh veggies it pretty much forces you to eat well.”

CSA programs also connect eaters with the farms and farmers who grow it. “We love the direct interaction we have with our CSA members,” said Valerie Tachenko. “We learn from each other and we can share our farm with them. And they share their stories with us.”

 CSA “shares” or boxes are filled each week with whatever vegetables or fruit is in season. Val’s Veggies offers two types of shares. “The Val’s Veggie Box is like a Christmas Box — it is a surprise what you get each week,” said Tachenko. “It is a good option for folks who generally like vegetables and like to try new varieties.” Val’s also offers a custom CSA box, which allows customers to select what they want in their box each week based on what’s in season locally. CSA shares come in three sizes to serve various family sizes and single people. Tachenko said that CSA boxes are also good for people who can’t garden any more but love homegrown food or to supplement smaller home gardens. 

As interest in CSAs grows, Val’s Veggies has offered new options and incentives to eaters. Besides the vegetable shares, Val’s will offer fruit shares from Eagle Creek Orchard in Richland and continue their weekly egg shares. This year they are also accepting EBT/SNAP (food stamps) for CSA shares and offering an incentive to workplaces. “For any office that has five or more members, we will deliver directly to your workplace,” said Tachenko. Normally, CSA members pick up their boxes at their local farmers market or other drop-off sites in Baker City, La Grande or Pendleton. 

Customers can sign up for Val’s Veggies CSA until June 1 online at www.valsveggies.com or by contacting the farm at 541-853-2353. More information about CSAs in Eastern Oregon, farmers markets and other sources of locally-grown food can be found in the Oregon Rural Action Local Food & Farm Guide, available in print form or online at www.oregonrural.org. 

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