Owned and operated by Indhu Balasubramaniam, Amaranth Acres in Dickerson is one of the few farms in Montgomery County that specializes in organically grown South Asian and Indian vegetables. A software engineer by trade, Balasubramaniam was inspired by her grandparents’ farm in India to work with the land and grow her own food.
The farm, now in its fifth year, grows a mix of American and Asian produce, including cucumbers, peppers, kale, bok choy, bottle gourd, coriander leaves, snake gourd, okra, Brinjal (Indian eggplant) and sorrel leaves, a specialty in southern India.
“I would give my produce to friends as gifts, and I realized that there was a real interest in Indian vegetables,” Balasubramaniam says. “I have some non-Indian CSA members, and they seem to enjoy the food once they know how to cook it.”
The Consumer Supported Agriculture model works better than retail for Balasubramaniam and her customers. She even created an email group so her members could share cooking advice and swap recipes. In order to get some extra help on the farm, Balasubramaniam started a workshare arrangement that offers a discount on CSA shares for members who work four hours every week for 25 weeks.
“Last year ended up being great for our CSA because everyone wanted to get outside and buy locally,” Balasubramaniam says. “Unfortunately, I can only take so many people, but everyone should support their local farmers. I think last year really showed us that having a local food system is very important.”
A version of this story first appeared in the April-May issue of Montgomery Magazine.