Local farms take a bite out of meal kit market

LANDISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Imagine eating a healthy meal that’s already prepared for you and your family. Meal kits like Blue Apron and others do that, but some local high schoolers believe they’ve found a better way.

“Here’s some tomatoes that have grown from us trellising,” said Daija Berry, soon to be a junior at Carlisle High School.

Berry walked up and down the aisles of produce at the LEAF Farm in Perry County. LEAF stands for Leadership, Education and Farming, which is also the name of the program in which Daija is an intern this summer.

“I think the red ones taste more like bitter,” she said.

Before her LEAF internship, Daija would have never known the nuanced flavors of tomatoes.

“I definitely don’t take food for granted anymore,” she said.

The group’s goal is to share that appreciation — family style.

“We’re going to provide a nutritious, locally-raised or grown meal,” said Chef Lance Smith of The Millworks in Harrisburg.

Smith takes a break from his day job to help LEAF interns address what they surveyed as the biggest obstacle to healthy eating in the area: time.

“That was over all backgrounds, all socioeconomic backgrounds,” LEAF assistant executive director Shane Kaplan said.

“We’re actually doing all the prep work, where all they really have to do is just reheat it and go,” said Smith. He said the meals are ready in an average of 15 minutes.

Anyone can subscribe to pick up LEAF Kits for a five-week session. The kits include two meals per week, made with food mostly from the LEAF farm. Meats and cheeses are often sourced from one of three nearby farms in Perry and Adams counties.

“We’ve got some London broil and some chuck roast that came from North Mountain Pastures,” said Smith, who credits the farmer with the most sustainable practices.

“It makes it so we can support farmers that are local, and at the same time get the freshest possible ingredients,” Kaplan said, adding that there are environmental benefits, too. “It’s not traveling from California, so there’s not a lot of waste going into these in terms of the carbon emissions, but also packaging, there’s a lot less.”

Other farms like Paulus Farm Market in Mechanicsburg have their own five-week membership meal kits. If you’re interested, you can order at their location at 1216 S. York St., Mechanicsburg, PA, 17055. Beginning this fall, they’ll take orders on their website, paulusfarmmarket.com.

If you’d like to be a part of the LEAF kits, you can sign up online at http://www.leafprojectpa.org/leaf-kits/.

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