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Organic vegetables grow on locals
Dover's Doalnara Restoration Society devoted entirely to growing organic

Organic foods are taking up more and more shelf space in retail outlets, even ones as large as Wal-Mart. The mega chain announced plans to add 1,000 organic products to its stock this summer.

"What I've discovered about eating these vegetables, it really makes you feel better," says Catherine Smith, a Clarksville organic produce devotee.

The numbers show Smith is not alone in her belief in the superiority of organic produce, which is grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals or artificial fertilizers of any kind. In 1980, Americans spent $178 million on organic foods. By 2005, they spent $51 billion on organic and natural products, including $13.8 billion on organic foods and $65 million on organic pet products.

Those numbers are growing every day. Based on member surveys, the Organic Trade Association reported last month that organic food sales are expected to hit $16 billion by the end of this year.

Still, only a small percentage of readily available foods in grocery stores are organic. Smith is on a mission to make fresh, locally grown organic foods available to Clarksvillians. Each Wednesday, now through October, boxes of produce from the organic farm at Doalnara Restoration Society in Dover will be delivered to members of a new Community Supported Agriculture project Smith started earlier this month.

Smith came up with the idea of starting a Community Supported Agriculture program in Clarksville after starting a small community garden as a ministry of St. John's Episcopal Church, which is led by her husband, the Rev. Patrick Smith. The church's Web site, http://www.stjohnsclarksville.org/, suggests people take "the journey toward healing and wholeness; the journey back to the garden."

Although the Web site refers to the purity of the Garden of Eden before it was sullied by man's sin, the Smiths also believe in the healing powers of a pure garden today.

Patrick Smith says people need to reclaim the soil and realize their bodies are God's temples. People are healthier and feel better when they're not eating foods tainted with pesticides, he says.

The reasons to eat organic are many. Eating organic foods prevents exposure to residues from poisons used to combat insects and weeds in conventional agriculture.

"We don't use any kind of weed killers or chemicals," says JC Kim, farm supervisor at Doalnara.

Some studies indicate organic vegetables have more nutrients than their chemically grown counterparts. The issue is still being analyzed, but organic food proponents says soil practices used on organic farms guarantee more nutrition in every bite of organic produce.

Katherine Choo, a former nurse in California who now farms at Doalnara, says she uses rice to harvest microorganisms from surrounding fields, then adds them to the all-natural compost that fertilizes Doalnara's crops.

"The plants can't take the nutrients directly from the fertilizer" because the nutrients' molecules are too large, says Doalnara farmer Andy Yoo. "The microorganisms breaks the nutrients down for the plants to use. It's the most essential part of agriculture."

"It's the foundation of farming," Choo says.

Nutrient-filled, chemical-free soil yields nutrient-filled, chemical-free produce.

"These vegetables are packed with so many nutrients compared to conventional vegetables," Smith says.

Catherine Smith says the project will bring food to locals' tables just hours after it was growing at Doalnara, avoiding the pre-ripened picking and weeks of shipping and storage that most imported produce suffers.

"They pick the vegetables the day they deliver them," she says about the farmers at Doalnara.

People who want to squeeze every ounce of benefit out of their vegetable consumption should avoid the microwave, stove and oven, Choo says.

"Eating raw is best," Choo says. "You get all of the vegetable's enzymes. It gives much energy to you."

Jennifer Nam, who also works on the farm at Doalnara, says she often has her breakfast right in the field.

"In summertime, we eat raw corn. You pick it and eat it," she says. "It's so good."

Nam speculates that eating freshly picked, raw food is a bite of heaven on earth.

"When we go to heaven, we are probably going to eat like this," she says. "We won't have kitchens in heaven."

Stacy Smith Segovia can be reached at 245-0237 or by e-mail at stacysegovia@theleafchronicle.com.

Originally published June 21, 2006

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Alicia Archuleta/The Leaf-Chronicle

Patrick Smith, Shay Cupina and Catherine Smith talk with Andy Yoo of Doalnara Restoration Society about the squash and cucumbers grown on the Dover farm. Catherine Smith, through a ministry of St. John's Episcopal Church, has started the Community Supported Agriculture program, which offers a variety of organic produce to Clarksville residents.

Coming Saturday

Read about the principles that guide the 128 residents of Doalnara Restoration Society in Dover. Primarily Korean, the residents left lives as nurses, lawyers and business people in Korea and all over the United States to embrace a life of simplicity, hard work and great faith.

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