I am craving some dark, leafy green kale. And a ripe, juicy tomato. And I am somewhat demanding because I want it to be picked this morning and delivered today. Looking out the window this morning at my snow-covered part of the world, I am guessing that this is not going to be happening. Sigh.
Lucky, lucky me, this is actually what I experience from early June right up until Thanksgiving, thanks to my CSA. CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, is one of my favorite things.
At their most fundamental level, CSA farms provide a weekly delivery of sustainably grown produce to consumers during the growing season (approximately June to October). Those consumers, in turn, pay a subscription fee. But CSA consumers don’t so much “buy” food from particular farms as become “members” of those farms. CSA operations provide more than just food; they offer ways for eaters to become involved in the ecological and human community that supports the farm. Land Stewardship Project
We started out our CSA experience by splitting a share with another family. You can either alternate weeks (this is what we did) or split what comes in the box each week. Now, our family greedily eats the entire share ourselves (except for the beets, which for some reason none of us like, no matter how we prepare them, so we give those to deserving persons who love beets.)
What makes a CSA so special? This is what mine, Hogs Back Farm, says:
We practice organic and sustainable farming methods, without the use of any chemical herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers. Our regular season share is chock-full of over 40 different crops including lettuce, corn, carrots, beans, tomatoes, peas, squash, potatoes, garlic, broccoli, beets, onions, melons and more. Our main season runs for 18 weeks, from June to October. Our share comes in a large reusable crate which, depending on the time of year, contains from six to 26 pounds of produce. Your share also includes our informative newsletter that tells you what’s in the box and what’s going on at the farm. In addition to the vegetables we offer maple syrup, honey, fruit and some organically raised meats for sale from other farms and friends.
Here’s what I received the first week of the CSA last year. I was so excited! And this was at the beginning of the season, when the garden is just getting started. At the end of summer, the boxes are huge!
My CSA is Hogs Back Farm, but you can find your own right here. Procrastinators, pay attention: Leaving it to the last minute is not an option. You must sign up in the next month or so if you want to have a CSA share in the summer.
How to choose? You can make your selection based on location of pick up, price, selection, and more.
A lot of people have asked me how expensive a share is. Our full share works out to $33 a week. Given that we don’t have to buy any additional produce, and what we receive is local and fresh and organic, I think that’s a very reasonable price.
Others have asked how I know what to do with all of the vegetables. For me, one of the greatest advantages of having a CSA is that we get to try things we wouldn’t normally pick up at the grocery store. The newsletters that come every week provide lots of information and recipes to help us get to know what we are eating. Best of all, my kids eat a lot more vegetables because they look and taste so fresh and appealing.
So, what to do today?
I think I’ll follow Anna’s advice and make some soup.
I have made this one without the mussels and it is exceptionally delicious.
Hopefully it will satisfy some of my cravings.