Meet The Farmers: La Vista CSA Farm – Hands-On Sustainability

Crystal and Eric Stevens

By Nancy Smith

Not far from St. Louis, near the village of Godfrey, Il, itself a charming place on the Great River Road, lies a farm that is unique in its conception and its covenant with the community. Originally founded by an Oblate, Maurice Lange, 12 years ago, La Vista farm and CSA provides boxes of produce grown with love, care and organic methods in service to the community. The project is a manifestation of the Oblate Ecological Initiative, and focuses on ecological justice in a hands-on and sustainable way.

For five years, Eric Stevens has been farm manager, and his wife Crystal has been Greenhouse Manager and Assistant Farmer, following in the footsteps of the first La Vista farmer, Amy Cloud, and Chris and Stacey Larson, who were the second farmers to undertake this mission.

Maurice Lange conceived the idea of a farm with CSA on the Oblate property when he visited another CSA 12 years ago. The first customer for La Vista CSA wrote a check for the whole season on the spot, and since then, the CSA has grown exponentially, with great community support.

All the produce is grown using organic methods, and the farm is a model of permaculture. Medicinal herbs, an orchard protected with underplantings of alliums like chives, bees, and sustainable pollinator plantings are tended for the good of the farm, the community and the planet.

The CSA season is 26 weeks, from May through mid-November. In addition to pick-up at the farm, subscribers are offered a choice of pick-up points at either Garden Heights Nursery on Big Bend Rd. on Saturday mornings from 7 to 8 or Green Earth Grocery in Edwardsville, IL on Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30.

Eric and Crystal are passionate about growing safe, healthy foods without pesticides, growing native plants and medicinal herbs, creating pollinator gardens, and integrating permaculture with sustainable farming. See the farm website www.lavistacsa.org or facebook page for announcements of Open Farm Days. This is a great chance for the whole family to enjoy a day on a farm that is more than just a farm. La Vista farm promises a spiritual and enlightening experience with a myriad of ideas to help the gardener or farmer become more attuned to the earth and all its gifts.

Crystal also has a burgeoning writing career. She writes for The Healthy Planet, Feast, Grit and Permaculture magazines, blogs for Mother Earth News, and has her own blog, growingcreatinginspiring.blogspot.com Crystal is also excited to announce that her first book, Grow, Create, Inspire will be published this year.

Nancy Smith is the owner of Peace and Plenty Herbs and a regular contributor to The Healthy Planet magazine.