ASAP likes to share the stories of people who help us fulfill our mission. This month we talk with farmer Noel Poindexter of Lunar Whale Herbs, a one-acre medicinal and culinary herb farm in Alexander. Noel sells at area farmers markets and offers a fresh herb CSA and apothecary boxes to connect customers to plant medicine. Meet her and find out more at the Asheville CSA Fair on March 11!
Lunar Whale offers a specialty CSA. Can you describe what customers get from week to week?
Lunar Whale Herbs offers a fresh herb CSA, which includes both medicinal and culinary herbs. In each share, members receive five generous bundles of fresh leaf, flower, or roots, depending on what’s in season, along with an educational newsletter on the properties of each herb and recipes for medicine-making and cooking. At the beginning of the season each member receives three “how-to” herbal medicine making videos and a PDF with basic medicine making techniques.
Some herbs to expect: in the spring, nettles, comfrey leaf, dandelion greens, garlic scapes, mullein leaf, arugula, chervil, claytonia, cilantro, and parsley; in the summer, garlic, yarrow, hops, boneset, catnip, feverfew, mugwort, motherwort, red clover, milky oats, sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, wormwood, mints, shiso, tulsi, basil, anise hyssop, sweet annie, calendula, blue vervain, skullcap, chamomile, echinacea flower, lavender, bee balm, and spilanthes; and in the fall, ginger, turmeric, ashwagandha root, burdock root, yellow dock root, comfrey root, angelica root, dandelion root, marshmallow root, and elecampane root.
How are CSAs beneficial to both farmers and customers?
CSAs are beneficial to farmers because they are able to get the bulk of their income in the beginning of the season, when they are buying most of their supplies. It is also a great business model for farmers to have a guaranteed income for the season that they can budget accordingly. CSAs are beneficial for customers because they are able to have a deeper connection to a farm and know they are supporting a local business. Members are able to learn more about how farms work, experience new vegetables or herbs, and gain recipe inspiration. I also like to think as a CSA member that you are getting a “gift” for yourself every week.
What are some ways you connect with CSA members throughout the season? Do you have learning opportunities?
I connect with CSA members every share through my newsletter with plant bios and recipes for cooking and medicine making. I also host medicinal plant walks on the farm, herbal medicine making workshops, and volunteer farm work days.
Particularly as a new farmer, what have you learned about offering a CSA?
As a new farmer, I have learned that it takes a lot of work to get the word out there about your CSA and get members to sign up. Especially with a unique fresh herb CSA, there is a lot of education that needs to happen in explaining our offerings to potential customers. I’ve also learned that CSAs are a great way to connect with the community and create relationships with your members.
You’ve participated in ASAP’s virtual 2021 CSA Fair as well as the in-person fair in Hendersonville this year. How has that experience helped you?
The CSA Fair experience has helped me meet new customers and hone in on my “CSA pitch.” Learning how to talk to customers and show your passion for what you are doing is a great skill to have in the farming world!