Have you tried the CSA box subscription, and found it wanting? Don't know what to do with garlic scrapes? If you're looking to purchase locally grown, fresh, reasonably priced vegetables, here's the solution. The Tree Farm.
Just past Indian Lake, the sign at the end of the dirt driveway on country road Hwy 19 is the only clue that fresh vegetables are hidden somewhere nearby. Follow the tree-lined road to the top of the hill, and prepare to be amazed at the acres of garden produce that is The Tree Farm.
Madisonians pride themselves on "buying local" and eating the freshest food available. Nation-wide, as people become more concerned about their health, they want to know "what's in my food," and "how many miles did it travel to my plate?" This has caused more people to purchase local, fresher alternatives, like CSA boxes, or go to farmer's markets. Many have started growing their own gardens.
While the costs for fresh vegetables can be prohibitive for CSAs and farmer's markets, the Tree Farm prices are very reasonable for "cooperative pickers." (Cooperative pickers are visitors who follow the signs and map rules of where to pick and how to pick produce.)
Additionally, tending your own garden can be a time-consuming, frustrating affair. The Tree Farm allows you to enjoy only the best part of gardening: the harvest! In fact, for many Madison-area families, picking vegetables here is an annual tradition spanning generations.
There's no question of harvest time or date at The Tree Farm. As their motto states, "When you pick it, you know it's fresh!"
The Tree Farm opened for the season on June 29th. This hidden adventure can also be a fantastic family outing. When children are involved in the food harvest, they tend to eat more fresh vegetables. As an added bonus, Chris, the owner, encourages "quality control" while picking, so do encourage your children to sample the produce.
Visit the Tree Farm website for expected dates for all vegetable offerings. Peas (snap and garden), kohlrabi and lovage are available right now. Calico popcorn and pumpkins will beckon the youngsters in the fall. And, don't forget the Christmas tree in December.
Picking protocol: When you arrive at The Tree Farm, stop at the top of the hill and grab a map. This sheet will inform as to what's ripe, the pricing, and a detailed map showing each vegetable's location. Pick your produce (See Cooperative Picker note above) and then pay at the shed that contains the weighing scales. If you have any questions, Chris or Susan are more than happy to assist.
Important note: Bring your own containers and bags!
If you plan to visit, check the website for vegetable availability. It is updated daily in the wee hours.
Location:8454 Hwy 19, Cross Plains
Hours: Check website for open days and hours.
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