WHEELING, W.Va. - There's no food quite like freshly grown produce from local farms.
A quick stroll through a number of local farmer's markets will prove that point. Customers are never in short supply.
People like homegrown produce. They know where it's grown and they like how it tastes.
DANNY?SWANN, right, owner of Black Swan Organics in Wheeling, teaches a class on no-dig garden in Wheeling.
Wheeling resident Danny Swan is looking to expand upon this with his latest venture, Black Swan Organics.
Similar to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Black Swan Organics looks to provide its customers with farm-fresh products from throughout the area.
A traditional CSA has a customer paying one particular farmer a lump-sum at the beginning of the season and receiving weekly supplies of produce in return.
Black Swan differs in that the food baskets it sells are collected through an approved network of local growers, increasing the variety of what is offered.
Swan is the founder of Black Swan and has been working on gardening and healthy food projects in Wheeling for the last five years. He is the co-founder both of the east Wheeling Community Gardens and Green Wheeling Initiative.
An urban farmer, Swan's own produce is grown utilizing natural and sustainable permaculture methods. The no-till farming methods "replicate and preserve the natural ecosystems and produce the best quality food for you and your family."
He also gathers produce from a network of local farmers and producers. Swan explained that he inspects every farm in that network and will only work with those producers who use natural and sustainable methods.
"We source from growers who avoid synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers or other dangerous chemicals," Swan said.
There are two subscription options for customers who wish to order from Black Swan.
The first is the Farmer's Choice produce basket. This option contains a changing variety of fruits and vegetables. Swan believes this is the best option for someone who is adventurous in the kitchen or for those who simply like a wide variety in their produce. It contains 8-12 varieties of fruits and vegetables and is appropriate both for families or singles.
There is also the U-Choose basket. Each week, customers choose th seven types of fruits and vegetables they wish to purchase. While the overall quantity may be slightly less than the Farmer's Choice, the customers does have the luxury of purchasing exactly what they want.
Each basket runs $25 per week. Swan estimates the retail cost would be in the $30-$35 range if bought retail. So not only are you purchasing naturally-grown produce, you're saving money.
"For years, the American family farm has been in sharp decline," Swan lamented. "Our small towns and cities have lost the bedrock of a healthy population: local farmers who care about the health of the land and the people.
"It is time we reverse that trend by supporting our local farmers at Farmers Markets and through subscription programs like Black Swan Organics.
"It is imperative that we work as a community to make fresh and healthy foods more available in our neighborhoods and schools."
Swan noted that on rare instances when all-natural products are not available in the necessary quantity, Black Swan will source form local growers who are transitioning toward organic, natural growing methods.
For more information, visit Black Swan Organics online at www.blackswanorganics.com or check out its Facebook page by searching for Black Swan Organics. You may also call Swan (304) 288-7391 for more information.
Hughes may be reached at email@example.com