In 2018, I started a CSA, and I had, like, seven people in it.
It didn’t go that well because I didn’t know what I was doing.
And then, the next year, I had five members, and that went better. People were happier. The following year I had ten people, and this year I have 22.
Members go to the produce stand first, then to the walk-in cooler, and after we walk in the garden and pick out what they want. It’s a very customizable CSA, but it also requires 10 to 20 minutes to go through the gardens. Customers have to manage the time and be aware of how long it takes.
We do more educational outreach through our volunteer program now. People can come and volunteer, and for every five hours, they get what would be equal to a half bushel of produce. And if they start early in the year, we keep a spreadsheet so we can redeem their hours for them anytime during the summer.
I like the people in Goshen. They’re very community-oriented. They’re more community-oriented than any other area I’ve lived.
I went to school to be a biology and chemistry teacher. I was a middle school physical science teacher in inner-city Charlotte, North Carolina, for a year, and then I taught at a junior and senior high school north of Lafayette. Remedial life sciences for grades 9,10, and 11. Both teaching experiences were for highly at-risk populations.
I wanted to be in academia, so after I left teaching secondary education. I entered graduate school at Miami University of Ohio and got my master’s in Ecology.
I started my Ph.D., but after two years I became disenchanted with academia. I left grad school to pursue a career in brewing beer.
After I was laid off during the pandemic, I knew I wanted to be done with brewing and work on my business. When I moved back home, I started building these raised beds, and I kept expanding how many I had.
My mom started Nelson’s Herbs in 1989. In working with her, I get a sense of kinship and feeling that she’s working to improve the business, not working just to have a job.
What I see in the future for this business is a collective on the farm. I would really like to be a support for farm start-ups. People could use the farm to grow their own business, and after they start making money from that, they would start paying a fee. Eventually, if they want, they can leave the collective.
I think I’ve found my way. I’ve changed a lot. And I think of myself as a scientist at heart. With my educational background, knowing the science behind everything, I consider myself a scientist more than a farmer.
– Jason Nelson, co-owner, Nelson’s Herbs
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This summer, we're taking a look at some of the small farms and urban gardens you'll only find in Goshen! More stories to come through September.
Written and edited by Wendy Wilson
Original publish date April 2022