Owners: Richard Andres and Deb Lentz
Season: Early June-Mid October (20 weeks)
Pick-up: Saturday - Community High in Ann Arbor and Chelsea Farmers Market; Wednesday -Ann Arbor Farmers Market; Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday pickup available at Tantre Farm
Cost: Full share $600 for 20 weeks ($575 for farm pickup).
Cost per week: $30/week
Growing practice: Certified organic
Note: Depending on what's still available, Tantré is also planning to offer their extended season share for an additional 3-4 weeks in the fall, plus a large Thanksgiving share with about 60 pounds of storage vegetables. These are priced separately and usually available to non-members.
Certified organic since they started in 2001, Tantre Farm is one of the largest and best known of the local CSAs, with well over 300 members. Owners Richard Andres and Deb Lentz represent the two essential halves that make up the yin and the yang of the farm. Andres orchestrates the planting, growing and harvesting of the food; Lentz manages the communication and organization of people, resources and activities.
Deb Lentz says that for her “it’s all about community building and networking. I love being connected to this diverse alternative community....without the CSA, I don’t think I would have found that.”
Lentz and Andres have worked very hard to create a welcoming atmosphere at Tantre. All members are invited to come out to the farm to visit, help, walk around, picnic, harvest - anything - almost any time. There’s always something to do on the farm and all they ask is for a phone call in advance.
Much of the daily labor of planting, weeding, watering, mulching and harvesting the food is done by young (and older) interns who live, work, and learn on the farm for the entire season. Eating, working and living together brings them together as part of a family. Lentz says that mothering that extended family, helping with life skills, basic cooking, even things like hanging clothes on the line, and general relationship issues has become a part of her role that she enjoys.
It’s a good complement to the work of putting seeds in the ground and getting them to grow, which Lentz acknowledges is the domain of her partner, Richard Andres. She says that Andres enjoys the work of growing plants and of creating food as part of a larger system that can have a wider, even global effect.
The Tantré share box easily feeds four people and includes a good assortment of really lovely vegetables. Andres seems to love the challenge of experimenting with unusual and delicious things - like the delicate pale green French flageolet beans. Lentz explains that they have designed their weekly boxes to include each part of the plant - roots, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds. And that they want people to be able to easily make salad, stir-fry, and main dish foods from what’s in each weekly box.
In addition to the regular summer share, they have also begun offering 3-4 week “fall harvest” shares, and a large Thanksgiving share with up to 60 pounds of mainly storage vegetables. And members often have the opportunity to pick extra produce if they’d like more to freeze or preserve.
Tantre hosts a number of special events during the year. There is a yearly informational meeting for new CSA members in April, several special farm days for kids, along with spring, summer and fall work parties that include a member potluck. They also coordinate several hands-on cooking classes for ideas to help with making produce into meals, and host workshops on topics like tomato preserving, kimchi, and cider making.
Whatever they’re doing, it seems to be working. Deb Lentz looks over their most recent member survey to see what people say they like. She says the most common response is about about how glad members are to support an ethical, organic, local farm and to know where their food comes from. But they also say that getting the weekly box of vegetables is like opening a Christmas present, that they love eating with the seasons, and that it’s a wonderful way to teach their children where their food comes from.