Heart surgery puts CSA on hold

Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Danny Byrum of Carrollton’s Batten Bay Farm takes his grandchildren for a ride on the tractor at the farm. His family is scaling back the farm’s community-supported agriculture operation after he had heart surgery.

After four years of community-supported agriculture, Carrollton’s Batten Bay Farm is putting the program on hold as its owner recovers from a triple heart bypass.

Danny Byrum, who works the farm with wife Romayne and daughter Allison, had the surgery at the Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk last Monday.

“In six weeks I should be pretty much back,” Danny Byrum said on the phone Wednesday from the Miller Lane farm.

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The 63-year-old didn’t have an actual heart attack but rather noticed that something was wrong while out in the field.

“I was working out here and just felt like I had a lot of pressure in my chest one day,” he said. “I knew something wasn’t right. My dad died with a heart issue, and so did granddad, so I was pretty cognizant of that stuff.”

After a stress test, Byrum was sent to the hospital thinking they would be using a stent to clear a blockage; but they opened his chest instead.

“When they got me back there, it turned out more extensive than they thought, so I had to have heart surgery,” Byrum said.

The popular CSA program is on hold indefinitely, and the farm will also no longer sell at farmers’ markets.

The changes are necessary, Byrum said, because CSA and markets demand a diverse range of produce that is more labor intensive.

“You have to have lots of different varieties all the time so people don’t have the same stuff all the time,” he said.

“It makes it a little bit harder work. Plus, I would need to be planting stuff within the next month to get the CSA ready.”

Byrum still plans to grow vegetables, however, which will be available for regular customers and anyone who wants to become one.

Cantaloupe, watermelon and sweet potatoes are some of the varieties he said he will grow in the forthcoming season.

The farm will announce availability via its website (www.battenbayfarm.com), Facebook and email, and inquiries can be made by calling 238-3334.

“Last year I struggled a little bit, like something was going on and I didn’t realize it,” Byrum said. “I was wearing out a lot quicker than normal.”

Whether — and, if so, when — the CSA starts up again will be evaluated in the future, he said, adding, “I’m getting older. I’m not sure exactly where we’re going to go with it.”