Home » Own Your Own Slice Of Toboggan Hill Farm | News, Sports, Jobs – Jamestown Post Journal

Own Your Own Slice Of Toboggan Hill Farm | News, Sports, Jobs – Jamestown Post Journal

by Arifa Rana

Apr 17, 2022
Most of us are never going to own a farm, although a lot of us romanticize the thought of having one. What’s not to love about an old farmhouse, fresh milk, the resident pig rolling in the mud, and Charlotte spinning a web in the dusty corner of a barn’s loft?
And who doesn’t like fresh eggs?
An amazing, but underutilized opportunity in Chautauqua County allows you to buy a share in a local participating farm and take away a weekly supply of fresh produce or other offerings during the growing season. There are farms here that participate in what’s called Community Supported Agriculture, where a community of individuals pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.
One such participating farm is Toboggan Hill Farm, southwest of Westfield. It’s the kind of farm you might like to own yourself, with little piggies drinking out of galvanized buckets, fuzzy baby chicks running after their mothers on a spring day–all happening on something like a movie set with a two-acre market garden, sixty acres of pasture, and twenty acres of woods.
They raise their vegetables without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. Instead, they take advantage of methods like companion planting and crop rotation to grow healthy food. They feed their chickens, goats, and pigs organic feed, and all of their animals have access to the outdoors. And this can all be yours–for as little as $165 a year.
Here’s how it works at Tobaggon Hill Farm: select a share size that works for your family. A family usually benefits from a full share. A couple–a half share, and a single person might choose a quarter share. (Prices for a full share are $500, a half share $300, and a quarter share is $165. The prices are for the full growing season from spring to October and depending on your desired pickup location, prices may be a bit more. There are also a limited number of work/share options, where working two hours a week on the farm can reduce the cost of the share.)
After choosing your share option, send a check to the farm (their address is on their website), then choose a delivery option (there are eight pickup points in Chautauqua County) and then eagerly wait for the cucumbers and peas and other veggies to come rolling in. It’s as easy as that. And to me, there’s no downside to joining. You’ll spend that kind of money at a grocery store this coming season, but with a CSA, you are also buying into fresh, local produce while at the same time supporting our hardworking farmers.
Their list of offerings is a cornucopia of good stuff: anything from apples to grapes to pumpkins to asparagus and cucumbers, onions, peas and potatoes to kale and spinach and tomatoes and strawberries. It’s a long list, best perviewed on their website.
The Eisenstat’s, who own Toboggan Hill, are a wonderful couple–passionate about farming, educated and interesting in their own right. Mike grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and received a bachelor’s degree in geology from the College of Wooster. Donna grew up in Davenport, Iowa, which is the heart of farming in America. She received a bachelor’s degree in English from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., and a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Michigan.
Inspired and influenced by the writings of Wendell Berry, Louis Bromfield, and many others, they bought a farm near Mayville, and learned how to farm by making every possible mistake, says their website. When Donna was offered a teaching position in southwestern Pennsylvania, they moved to another farm in that area and developed markets for their pork, eggs, and vegetables. But then after 13 rewarding years teaching at West Virginia University Institute of Technology Donna retired, and they moved to their current farm near Westfield.
To be sure, Toboggan Hill isn’t the only CSA in Western New York. There are all sorts of food producers who offer shares, and some with different offerings beyond vegetables, including apples or whole chickens. You could literally take care of most of your food needs by belonging to several CSAs and then benefit by eating locally all year. The best way to see what’s available is by visiting localharvest.org and putting in your zipcode.
I plan to spend a few hours working at Toboggan Hill each week this summer. I’m looking forward to moving some dirt and learning something new. And what is better than offering my family fresh, local produce all summer long? And I’m most excited to watch my husband biting into an ear of corn so I can say, “I picked that.”
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