I am so excited – I got the email this morning that my CSA deliveries start next week! I am having a great time imagining all the tasty salads I’ll make with the abundance of lettuce currently in season, and dreaming of all the pickles I’ll make, and the fresh tomatoes I’ll can… before reality sets in and I’m so sick of lettuce and cabbage and zucchini that I could puke.
CSA stands for Community Support Agriculture. You buy a share (or half share, depending on your program or your needs) and every 1-2 weeks you get a box of fresh, organic produce and other products. The size and types of shares and the items in them vary widely from program to program, ranging from veggies, fruit, milk, eggs, cheeses, prepared/preserved foods, sometimes even flowers or medicinal herbs. My CSA share only includes produce, but they also have a buying club where I can buy things like milk and eggs (and even meat!) and have it delivered with my veggie share. Some CSAs will deliver right to your door, some will have once centralized location (like the farm where the food is grown) where everyone comes to pick up their food. Mine is a middle ground – there are pickup sites in various neighborhoods all over the city (and the tri-state area, for that matter) and you pick up your share from your designated site one day a week.
Last year was my first year participating in a CSA. I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I think it might have been from a GRID Magazine article I read back in Feb or March 2010. I ended up buying a veggie half share from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and a fruit share, and splitting it with my roommate. There was a pickup site half a mile from our apartment, and I loved popping over there Mondays on my lunch hour to see what goodies were in the basket that week. We’ve signed up with LFFC again this year, but only for veggies this time. The fruit share was nice, but we didn’t feel like we got enough variety to justify the cost. I’ve started canning a bit this year (due in no small part to Food in Jars), so I’m really excited to see what recipes I can find to use up the abundance of some veggies we’ll end up with. I also love trying new veggies that I never would have heard of or tried otherwise. Last year I tried garlic scapes, rainbow chard, purple carrots, orange cauliflower, and lots more.
Interested in joining a CSA? I’ve found the Local Harvest site to be chock full of good information.
Have a favorite farm fresh recipe? Share it in the comments! (please, share – I need more comments :))