Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a way to support your local farmers and in return receive fresh local produce. Most farms have CSA sign ups by the season. You pay a fee for let’s say, 10 weeks, and you receive a share of what is harvested, usually once every week for that 10 weeks.
I received my last CSA share from Barbee Farms this week. I have been signed up with them since this summer and loved the experience. They do have a winter CSA, but I decided not to sign up due to the Holiday scheduling. I hope to sign up with them again in the spring. Until then, I will make my way to the Atherton Market when I can.
I originally decided to sign up for a CSA for three main reasons:
1. I was getting tired of waking up early on Saturday morning to make it to the Farmers’ Markets. As much as I wish I was, I am totally not a morning person! By the way, this was before I saw the documentary Food Inc. > I had been trying to incorporate more fresh produce in my diet, but I always found that the produce in the grocery stores never looked that fresh and actually didn’t even taste that great either. Of course some of it is okay and is still better than any other packaged food in the store. I was just a little disappointed in the quality. This is when I determined that I would try to buy my produce from Farmers’ Markets where I knew it would be fresh and tasted way better. The truth is, that local produce hasn’t traveled across the country and lost half of its nutrients before it reaches you and also hasn’t been picked before its ripe.
2. Then I saw the documentary Food Inc. and found out that most Farms offer CSAs. I never knew such a thing existed. This was great news for several reasons. It meant that I could have my Saturday mornings back to sleep in. I wanted to be sure that I had access to fresh local produce every week and usually CSA pickups are during the week in the evening. I picked up my Barbee Farms CSA on Thursdays between 3 – 7pm. Perfect! More importantly, I was helping out a local business.
3. I decided that signing up for a CSA would be a challenge. You don’t get to choose what veggies and fruit you will get in your share. You take what they give you; whatever was harvested that week. I found myself always buying the same “safe” produce at the Farmers’ Markets. Produce that I had eaten many times before. I was a bit intimidated to try new things because I didn’t know how to cook or prepare it or if I would even like the way it tasted. I knew the CSA share would push me out of my box and make me try new things. I actually enjoyed finding new items in my box and searching the web or cookbooks for ways to prepare them.
Here is a list of all the new produce that I received in my CSA share that I had never eaten before:
- Sprite Melon
- Canary Melon
- Lamb’s Quarters
- Garlic Scapes
- Butternut Squash
- Patty Pan Squash
- Spaghetti Squash
- Swiss Chard
Here is a list of items that I have eaten before, but never prepared for myself:
- Mustard Greens
There are many more benefits to joining a local CSA. Please read Agrigirl’s Top 10 Reasons to join a CSA.
Visit Eat Wild to find local farms in your area.