When the greens first make their appearance at farmers’ markets here in the east, it’s a sure sign we’ve officially outlasted winter, turning the corner to a season flush with amazing fruits and vegetables. To take full advantage of this agri-bounty, my husband and I opted to join a CSA, short for Community Supported Agriculture.
For the uninitiated, that simply means we bought into a share of a farm’s crop—last year it was Norwich Meadows Farm; this year it’s Mountain View Farm. Each week, in a veritable vegetable adventure, we pick up our haul from a location near where we live, anxious to see what we’ll be cooking that week. (You don’t get to choose which roughage you take or how much goes home with you.) Not only does this arrangement guarantee we’re eating in-season, local produce, but it gives the farm some financial stability because we pay up front and share some of the risk.
There are other advantages to this food-purchasing style, too, according to LocalHarvest, an organic and local food website that maintains a searchable database of more than 4,000 CSAs:
- The food’s extremely fresh, from the farm to a truck to your fridge within hours. That also means it may come with the grit and dirt not typically found on grocery store vegetables, so be warned.
- You know exactly where your vegetables came from. Some CSAs even offer you the opportunity to visit the farm and meet the people growing your food.
- You get to try new and interesting produce. Or, for that matter, you learn news ways to prepare some old standbys—which arrive often and in bulk. Zucchini and kale, I’m lookin’ at you.
That last reason really spurred the impetus for my writing about CSAs. My husband and I love to cook, and all summer long, we try new recipes to use up our greens. Throughout the CSA season (my aim is once a week), I’ll share what we learn, focusing on a different vegetable in each post.
By the way, farm shares have grown in popularity so much recently that they’ve extended beyond produce, to eggs, bread, meat, even fish and beyond just summer shares. For more information, look at the USDA’s “Community Supported Agriculture” page, part of the National Agriculture Library or the CSA tab at LocalHarvest (it offers some great tips). And check back next Friday for the first veggie post, all about kohlrabi. (We’ve already made the recipe and it’s fantastic!)