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Investors reap dividends at Longview organic farm

By Robyn Claridy rclaridy@news-journal.com
Feb. 25, 2012 at 11 p.m.


Organic grower Bill Segers says you don't have to be a farmer to eat like one.

Segers and his wife, Dona, joined a nationwide food movement about four years ago when they planted their community supported agriculture farm on a piece of 7-acre land north of Hallsville.

Now, the couple grows 40 to 50 types of fruits and vegetables at their farm - Bill's Organic Gardens - which has moved to Longview.

Community supported agriculture is a direct marketing technique in which customers act as shareholders investing directly in the farm - and assume risks if crops fail.

Segers, a third-generation farmer from Louisiana, said while he has been a farmer his entire life, it wasn't until he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2008 that he started organic farming.

"Until then, we farmed with anything we could to kill insects," Segers said.

"The doctor didn't say what caused (the cancer). It could have been what I ate or breathed."

Unlike going to the grocery store, when customers pick up produce at Segers' farm, it's handed to them by the farmer who grew it.

Longview resident Terry Steele said it was the quality of the produce that drew her to Segers' farm.

"It's fresh, and when you pick up your produce, you see how things happen. These are like the vegetables grandma used to grow. No pesticides, and it's good," Steele said.

Stacey Beckworth, a first-timer at the farm, said she hoped joining would incline her to cook more vegetables for her family.

"This is kind of exciting. You know it's organic and good for you and fresher because it hasn't been sitting in a grocery store for a long time," Beckworth said.

Beckworth said she started thinking more about eating organic vegetables recently because her mother in-law has been diagnosed with diabetes.

"So this is a good step towards being healthy," she said.

Bill's Organic Gardens has about 100 to 150 shareholders who pick up fresh produce each week.

Shareholders contribute $1,200 annually and are able to pick up a basket of seasonal produce once a week for 40 weeks, Segers said.

"What we sell for $30 would cost you $75 at a local grocery store in organics, but this is fresh," Segers said. "In the grocery store, it's not fresh. Fresh picked will last two weeks."

For more information about Bill's Organic Gardens, visit www.billsorganicgardens.com or call (903) 663-2080.

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