James Rada, Jr.
Imagine having your own personal farmer who grows nutritious fruits and vegetables and harvests them the day you pick them up. This farmer deals with the dirt and bad weather to make sure you have food that is fresher and more nutritious than what you can buy in a grocery store.
That is mostly what happens when you participate in Good Soil Farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA). It is a win-win farming concept for both the farmer and consumer.
Stephen and Casey-Mae McGinley own Good Soil Farm in Emmitsburg. They practice regenerative agriculture “to glorify God by cultivating fruitful soil, happy souls, and healthy communities,” according to the mission statement.
Both the McGinleys are graduates of Mount St. Mary’s University and both had wanted to farm for years before being able to purchase 25 acres on Keysville Road from the Daughters of Charity in 2017. Stephen said that health issues and Casey’s pregnancies “made us more interested in healthy food and how to grow healthy food.”
The idea behind the way they farm is to grow foods that like the soil. For instance, the McGinleys tried growing green beans, but beans don’t like the soil on the farm, so they never grew to their potential or tasted as good as other vegetables suited to the soil.
The McGinleys also try to grow complementary crops. “Certain plants grow well together, such as tomatoes and basil,” Casey-Mae said.
They grew their first crop in 2018 and offered shares to 10 families using the CSA model. A CSA farm sells shares of the crops that the farmer grows.
“Members pay at the beginning of the season, and each week, they can pick up their share of what we’ve grown,” said Casey-Mae.
The concept has been around for about 30 years and continues to grow in popularity because of the benefits it offers to both farmer and consumer. It has become a popular way for smaller farms to maintain their viability at a time when it is becoming harder for small and medium-size farms to make ends meet.
Last year, Good Soil Farm had around 40 members, and they would like to continue to grow. Stephen estimates that they could serve about 50 members on their current farm.
The farm grows a variety of vegetables, including lettuce, eggplant, squash, peppers, beets, and a lot more. The McGinleys sell eggs separately and are growing a sheep herd to eventually be able to offer lamb.
“The value you’re getting is pretty remarkable, and the quality makes it difficult to beat,” Stephen said.
Because people might be unfamiliar with how to prepare some of the items the McGinleys grow, they often have recipes you can use to cook up a delicious meal.
Because part of the McGinley’s goal is to build a community, they hold special events throughout the season at the farm. The parties bring together the members and feature dishes prepared with the food from the farm.
“It’s not just raising vegetables,” Stephen said. “We think the Lord made the world in such a way that if we work with it, instead of making it conform to our designs, it flourishes and we flourish.”
You can learn more about Good Soil Farm or sign up for a share at goodsoilfarmllc.wordpress.com.
Good Soil Farm’s regenerative agriculture cultivates “fruitful soil, happy souls, and healthy communities.”