Agricultural co-op already sold out for 2018

By Amy Fawe
Citizen Chronicle Writer

SOUTHBRIDGE — If you plant it, they will come.

That’s the hope for local resident Zachary LaVergne, owner of the Mustard Seed Microfarm, located at 42 Kingsley Street in Southbridge.

LaVergne’s Mustard Seed Microfarm, an agricultural cooperative, was founded to share his passion for growing not just clean vegetables, but flowers and fruits as well, and to work to change how people view the food system.

For LaVergne, transparency is a must, and he notes that he doesn’t have clients or customers, he has members and stakeholders. LaVergne asserted that he feels it’s important for this project to feel more personal, which is why he uses the words stakeholder and member interchangeably.

“Our mission is to support our members by promoting sustainable agriculture through peer-review certification, grassroots networking, and advocacy,” said LaVergne.

“I envision a group of people coming together to cooperatively support a common mission or cause. Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, is an example of community members coming together to cooperatively support a local farmer. By purchasing a share in a local farm, they become shareholders. In exchange, the farmer pledges to give them a portion of the seasons product,” explained LaVergne. “In my case, I supply my shareholders with a weekly portion of seasonal produce grown on my farm. CSA is a win-win for everyone because it provides the farmer with a guaranteed income, and the shareholders with incredibly fresh produce, often not more than a day old.”

The Mustard Seed Microfarm is housed on less than one quarter of an acre with 60 square feet of greenhouse space. For the 2018 growing season, LaVergne has already sold out the seven plots offered to members. He is planning to expand operations for 2019, expecting to offer 12 plots for his agricultural co-operative.

Southbridge resident Reba Taglieri is one of the newest members of the Mustard Seed Microfarm, opting to reap what LaVergne will sew based on the experiences of loved ones, and her own interest in the benefits.

“My family eats a large array of produce year-round and I’m looking to buy locally to support local businesses and prefer organic and hormone free food,” Taglieri reasoned. “I do have a friend that lives in [New York City], and she is a CSA member and talks very highly of it.”

LaVergne loves telling people about what he does and how he does it. His grandparents owned a farm in East Brookfield, and his grandmother is the one who first told him the motto he now plants by: “Healthy soil grows healthy plants.”

The Mustard Seed Microfarm specializes in growing high-quality fruits and vegetables using sustainable, all natural, biodynamic methods, LaVergne asserted. There are no chemicals or pesticides.

“I am one of only two Certified Naturally Grown farms in central Massachusetts. There are some pretty strict regulations I have to follow, and I don’t cut corners,” LaVergne said. “I don’t use synthetic fertilizers or chemicals of any kind. I grow everything from seed to harvest. My word is my guarantee.”

Ultimately, LaVergne said he is working to do his part to provide high quality, locally grown healthy food.

“I want to make it so everyone has a healthful, clean, local, affordable food source available,” LaVergne said.

For more information about the Mustard Seed Microfarm, visit LaVergne’s website at www.mustardseedmicrofarm.com, or e-mail him at mustardseedmicrofarm@gmail.com.

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