First off, if you are not familiar with CSAs, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In short summary, a member of a CSA pays a fee at the beginning of a growing season and each week picks up their share of the farm’s harvest.
This will be my fourth summer as part of a CSA and I can’t wait for my share pickup to begin next week! I know several friends who have considered making the leap to participate in a CSA, but weren’t sure if they wanted to jump. So I wanted to link up with Kathryn and share my 7 quick takes on why I enjoy being a member of community supported agriculture. Without further ado…
It’s a good value. I tend to easily go over my grocery budget when farmer’s market season rolls around and a CSA helps keep my spending on produce in check. After all, it’s only me and the ocassional extra mouth that I’m cooking for at this point, so there is only so much that I can eat in a week. THAT however, doesn’t tend to stop me from stocking up on the abundance of beautiful ingredients staring at me as I walk through the farmer’s market.
By having a CSA share I have paid upfront for my produce and that means at the height of summer when I’ve got zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn coming out my ears, I wouldn’t have to spend anything at the farmer’s market if I didn’t want to.
I support local and small farms. I like knowing my farmer.
After having a share at Bergefurd’s Farm, I know Marcia and her family a bit. We chat each week at the pick up er shared experiences at the county fair since her kids are 4-Hers and it gives me a touch of the country summers I find myself longing for now.
Knowing my farmer in person means I’m several steps closer to the production of what I’m putting into my body and I know and trust the practices they follow in growing my food. Farming is a hard existence and I’m grateful I can thank my farmer in person.
It’s like I have a garden, without having a garden. Growing up on a small farm, I found it such a chore to plant seeds and bend over pulling weeds for what was surely torturous hours (probably 20 mins in reality!) in the hot summer sun before anything was edible. The cruelty of it! But now that I live in the city, I long for the space and the right sunlight to have a garden.
Until I live in a house where I can have a container garden or convert my front yard to raised beds (please oh please!) I’ll have a CSA share. Because having a farm share and picking up my produce each week is the next best thing to going out to my garden and harvesting myself.
It makes a trip to the farmer’s market quick and easy. When the weather is the definition of summer perfection and the stalls are overflowing with ruby heirlooms, fresh garlic, plums bursting with juice, and freshly baked bread, everyone heads to the market. And if you’re in a hurry? Forget about it, unless you have a CSA. There’s a special quick line and everything.
I simply take my empty bag to where my farmer’s stand is each week and then it’s quickly and easily filled with my goodies for the week. I can be in and out of the market in 5 minutes sometimes.
I can preserve the harvest for later. At the height of the summer, there is WAY too much produce for me to eat at once, so I have to find ways to preserve it for later. That means I freeze and can (water bath style) so I can eat my summer produce all the way through the fall and winter. Corn, tomatoes, and peppers go into chili throughout the winter. Jams grace the tables of friends when I need a hostess gift to bring. Plus, strawberries and blackberries are perfect when added into my morning Shakeology weeks after the berry season is over.
It forces me to cook seasonally. Having a CSA share for the past few years has shown me the variety and exitement of cooking seasonally. Now, if you ask my favorite recipe or my favorite dish to cook, it changes depending upon the season.
In May or June high on the list is a beautiful tart and cinnamon-y rhubarb cake.
In July it is likely to involve sweet corn, new potatoes, and tomatoes. Have you gotten the hint that I like tomatoes, yet? Would you believe that I hated them growing up?
In October the sweet sugar baby pumpkin is the crown jewel of seasonal ingredients. Right next to all those winter squash cousins. I mean, have you ever eaten a pie made with a pie pumpkin? The pie filling is like candy before you even add the sugar.
Part of the joy of being in a CSA is being at the mercy of the harvest and figuring out what to cook based on what’s in your basket that week.
It tastes good! No further explanation needed.
Have you ever participated in community supported agriculture? Why did you do it? Or what keeps you from trying it?
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!