In a prior post, we talked about the benefits of a CSA compared to a farmer’s market.We hope you’re doing both. Our CSA boxes were available starting last week. Now we need to figure out what to do with everything. We’re trying to be more adventurous with the kale.
What’s a CSA again?
For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. In a nutshell, you’re purchasing a share of what the farmer produces. So if 100 people sign up, you get 1%. If there’s a bumper crop of radishes, or kale, you’ll get extra that week. If it’s a bad growing season, you won’t get as much.
You pay up front and share in the risks and the rewards. However, most CSA farms are well established and in tune with the rhythms of nature, and know how to recover from any apparent setbacks.
The CSA has determined what the growing season is, and how to provide the fresh produce. Usually, someone volunteers their house as the homebase where you pick up your box. Often the CSA provides add-ons like eggs, fruit, bread, flowers, cheese and meat.
Advantages for farmers:
- Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year rather then having to sell their stock during their 16 hour days in the field
- Receive payment early in the season, relieving crunches with the farm’s cash flow
- Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow, and educate them on local organic produce and growing methodologies
Advantages for consumers:
- Eat ultra-fresh organic food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Opportunities to visit the farm
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
Tips for Potential CSA Members
- Don’t expect all of your produce to come from the CSA. (That’s what the Farmer’s Markets can be used for…ok, and your local grocery store)
- Learn to eat seasonally. It takes some knowledge and practice. Go to your local library and search for cookbooks or magazines to help you with learning new ways of cooking.
- Organic means that things don’t look perfect, but they taste better.
- The food will spoil faster, so have a plan to use it up.
- Learn preserving like canning or freezing to handle bumper crops.
- Be clear about the policies. If you have something that is bad, most CSAs want to know so they can credit your account. And most CSAs don’t let you take a week off if you’re on vacation, so line up a friend to enjoy the munchies.
There are new types of CSAs out there that deliver the box to your door, and have smaller shares. There are others that let you choose what you want in your box, so if you really don’t want tomatoes because your plants are really producing, you can get more of something else instead. It will cost extra for custom, but for some people, that’s what works best for their needs.
What are you looking forward to eating this Spring?