E coli tainted spinach, Mad Cow disease in burgers and now smelly Girl Scout cookies — we can’t even imagine what horrors await the foodies among us! Concerns about the industrial machine that creates our food have led some Dallasites to make a change in their eating and shopping habits. That is exactly what motivated the guys who started Urban Acres, who now have four locations around Dallas with pick-up every other Saturday morning (including the new White Rock location at the Promise of Peace garden, Gaston and Garland, which gets off the ground this Saturday, March 6).

Urban Acres is a CSA (community supported agriculture) of sorts. A traditional CSA is when several families buy a "share" of a particular farmer’s production.  Every week the farmer divides what he has grown into a container for each family and they "share" of the bounty of the harvest. (During okra season, that means lots of okra!) Generally CSAs offer seasonal produce of all kinds but not items like meat, dairy or baked goods.

Urban Acres was born of this idea, but with a twist. The owners of Urban Acres forage for exceptional local farmers: producers of not only produce, but also honey, meats and poultry, bread, and other artisanal items. Their focus is on fresh, local and organic foods. Members buy a share (a onetime fee of $72, then $50 for a full share and $30 for a half share) and pick up their share at their chosen location. Each share has a selection of produce items included in the share price. If members want to add in fresh baked bread, local honey, milk or a host of other offerings, then they simply order them from the website by Wednesday the week before pickup.

Each week the share is different depending on what items are harvested from the farms during that week. It’s all fresh, seasonal and locally grown. CSAs and businesses like Urban Acres are good for the farmers because they allow a security net; the farmers know how much they can sell to the CSA so they can better plan their plantings and harvests. It is also good for members who get first shot at the freshest produce without dirtying their fingernails. No industrial machine here, just a friendly over the fence transaction between farmers and those of us who work in a cubicle.

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