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Seneca County agricultural program brings fresh, local produce to you

'Community Supported Agriculture' programs are a growing trend, but Riehm Produce Farm has run a successful CSA program for nearly 20 years.

SENECA COUNTY, Ohio — An agricultural program in Seneca County is slowly growing in popularity, and it truly brings the farm to the table.

Riehm Produce Farm was one of the first farms in Ohio to offer a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program.

Phil Riehm, a fifth-generation produce farmer, said about half of the 50 plus crops grown at the farm are reserved for CSA members, who choose one of three payment plans to have a bag of hand-picked, fresh produce delivered to a centralized pickup spot in their hometown. 

"There's not all the middlemen involved; your produce is fresh right from the vine. It's not like it traveled across the country or came from another country." Riehm said.

Reihm's CSA has been going strong for about 20 years now, and has grown to support around 1,000 members during the summer. It's also partnered with local businesses to be able to include coffee, bread, dairy products, pasta and more.

The program is so popular, it keeps four full-time employees busy filling the orders daily. 

"(There are) better quality vegetables than I'm getting elsewhere, and the fruit program is great. They've got me to explore new things by sticking mystery things in my bag," 10-year CSA member James Funk said.

Credit: Jon Monk
Produce bags are shipped weekly in the Summer, and bi-weekly in the Fall/Winter

With multiple greenhouses, Riehms also offers a smaller winter CSA season for up to 500 members. 

He said some of the veggies, like spinach, are always much better in the fall and winter.

"In the wintertime, it's very sweet, healthy and nutritious for you, and then we store our root crops and we store our sweet potatoes and things like that. So, people are like, 'What do you do in the winter?' We still do a lot in the winter," Riehm said.

Credit: Jon Monk
Phil Reihm says they can support up to 1,000 CSA members in the Summer, and up to 500 members during their Fall/Winter season

There are only about five weeks left for the summer season of Riehm's CSA, but folks are already signing up online for the fall and winter seasons which pick up starting in late October.