“It was really challenging for me with two children,” said Mary, who also didn’t like having to compost some of the vegetables that didn’t sell.

There had to be another way, Mary thought, to sell small amounts of vegetables to individuals. “So over the course of the winter, I kept thinking about this,” she said.

The A La Carte program

The solution she came up with was Courtney Farms’ A La Carte program. Mary calls it “sort of a virtual farmers’ market” that allows people to go to the farm’s website, www.CourtneyFarmsCSA.com; place a small order ($12 minimum for non-CSA members), and choose between six locations in Shelbyville and Louisville to pick it up.

Mary discussed her idea with one of her business confidants, Louisville Farm-to-Table Program coordinator Sarah Fritschner, an author and former food editor for The Louisville Courier-Journal.

“Sarah thought it could work really well, too, and gave me the confidence to go for it,” Mary said. “I don’t know anybody else that really does what we do.

“For some people, the regular CSA is not a good fit,” Mary said. “Maybe they don’t eat a lot at home, their schedule is helter-skelter, or they’re not crazy about cold-season crops but love warm crops like sweet corn and melons. It’s a little different twist to a CSA.”

A La Carte offers vegetables grown at Courtney Farms. They include: three varieties of beets (candy-striped, golden and red), rainbow Swiss chard, cucumbers, freshly-dug garlic, green onions, two varieties of squash (yellow and Zephyr, which is part yellow and green), and zucchini.

For additional A La Carte offerings, Courtney Farms collaborates with a number of local farmers, most of whom reside in Shelby and surrounding counties:

• Swallow Rail Farm in Simpsonville provides asparagus, blueberries, herbs, eggs, lamb, and specialty vegetables.
• Mulberry Orchard in Shelbyville supplies apples and peaches.
• Stone Cross Farms and Cloverdale Creamery in Taylorsville provide beef, pork, and English-style farmstead cheeses made from local milk in four flavors (plain, smoked, chive onion, and Cowbells in Clover, which is similar to Double Gloucester).
• Highland Livestock in Waddy supplies frozen hamburger patties and ground beef, and beef jerky in hickory-smoked original and black pepper varieties.
• Debbie Young in Finchville provides Hampshire-Suffolk cross lamb.
• Cedar Haven Farm in Waddy and Shelby Countian Suzi Rice both supply blackberries.
• David Davidson in Henry County and the Hogg family in Shelbyville both provide eggs.
• Franklin County producer Mike Salyers supplies mild and hot sausage, and asparagus.
• Franklin County beekeeper Joel Shrader provides raw honey.
• Fayette County producer Todd Clark supplies whole chickens and turkeys.
• Smiley's Strawberries in Washington County provides their namesake fruit.
• Gilkison Farms in Winchester supplies black raspberries.
• Steve Isaacs in Nonesuch provides table grapes.

There have been some growing pains with A La Carte, as with any new venture, but Mary is happy with the results. “Once we get the kinks out, get the logistics worked out, I think it’ll be really good for us,” she said.