No Place Like Home 

His name is Tim Keith, but his customers know him as "The Produce Man."

Keith sells the produce from area farms at various stops around town.

"I've been doing this with my dad since I was little," Keith says. "When I was old enough to go out on my own, I would load the trailer and make stops at the beauty shops on Summer and Poplar."

Doing good business at the hair salons on Thursdays and Fridays, Keith was looking for delivery opportunities for the beginning of the week. So he started delivering to the high-rises on Highland on Tuesday and Wednesday, which he still does.

When one of his longtime customers asked if he would consider setting up shop at her church, Keith made Colonial Park United Methodist Church on Park one of his regular stops.

"I've been coming here every Thursday morning for 10 years — at first from 9 to 10 a.m., but now an hour earlier. Today, people have already been waiting for me. When I leave here, I'll have a few more beauty-shop stops, and then my trailer will be empty," Keith says, pointing at his wares and helping a steady stream of customers.

Watermelon and cantaloupe, peaches, corn, okra, tomatoes, squash, peas, and potatoes are on his trailer today. Lady peas? No, that was last week, and he doesn't know what will be available next week. It all depends on what the farmers pick. No promises on the peas.

"What's on my trailer was picked by the farmers last night. I don't grow any of it," Keith says.

A recent trend in the U.S., Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a group of people who "pledge support" to a farm by subscribing to a weekly package of the farm's produce. Two area farms currently offer CSAs: Arkansas-based Whitton Flower & Produce Company and Downing Hollow Farm in Olive Hill, Tennessee.

"We don't always sell everything that we bring to the market, and by participating in the CSA, people help us keep the waste to a minimum," says Keith Forrester of Whitton Flower & Produce.

"Farmer's choice" is one of the key components of CSA. The customer doesn't get to choose what's in the box. If one week the farmer has an abundance of corn but is short on tomatoes, customers' CSA shares will reflect that. CSA participants also need to understand that to truly support the farm means that some weeks' offerings may be less than favorable or a skimpy share due to poor harvests, droughts, or pests.

Both farms have no more summer CSA shares available but may be able to take on additional supporters for the next season.

Downing Hollow Farm offers a 12-week CSA for $100 per month. Participants pick up their share near the University of Memphis every Friday. For more information and to sign up, visit downinghollowfarm.com.

Whitton Flower & Produce (whittonflowerandproduce.com) offers 10-week packages for $250 for a full share or $125 for a half-share. In Memphis, shares can be picked up on Wednesdays at the Memphis Botanic Garden's market or on Saturdays at the Memphis Farmers Market.

Miss Cordelia's takes being a neighborhood grocery store seriously. The Harbor Town store and deli provides customers with everyday grocery items, produce, meats, and prepared foods, as well as a large range of local products.

"We put emphasis on being a small neighborhood market and try to promote local products wherever we can," says Tony Owen, Miss Cordelia's general manager.

In addition to Dinstuhl's candy and coffee from Ugly Mug and McCarter coffee companies, Miss Cordelia's carries Neola Farms beef, Lil' Muddy Buddy dog biscuits, honey by Robert Hodum out of Collierville, Delta Grind grits and cornmeal, Delta Pecan Orchard's pecans and pecan candies, and LaMont's barbecue sauce and marinade from Mississippi. Customers will also find Hernando-based Millstone Gardens' full line of fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro, spearmint, French tarragon, and Italian parsley and varying produce from local farmers.

"We want to offer our customers the best products and carry items that they may find at the local farmers markets but probably not in the traditional supermarkets," Owen says. "I am always interested in adding more local products to the store."

Miss Cordelia's, 737 Harbor Bend (526-4772)

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