When we signed up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) winter share last November, we expected it to be delicious. Who knew it would be so much fun?
It all started when we visited the Los Osos Valley Organic Farm during a Central Coast Bioneers organic farm tour in October 2012 and became interested in purchasing a winter season share. Picking up at the farm was not practical for us so that was a potential road block.
On the farm’s website, I was happy to learn home delivery was available for a small fee. A link took me to a subscription website powered by Farmigo (a cloud-based CSA management system). I registered for an account and opted for a weekly share.
How it Works
The farm uses a 2 bag system. The first week’s share was delivered in an insulated bag with our name and address. The next week we placed our cleaned out empty bag on our porch and it was switched out for a new bag with week two’s share, and so on.
Week 1 – A New Experience
I met Anka as she was walking up our very steep driveway and she handed off our first delivery. I was on my own at home that week, and have virtually no mechanical skills, so the first issue I was faced with was how to open the bag. After puzzling over it for a few minutes I figured it out was able to open the bag without destroying it in the process.
After laughing and being grateful no one saw me struggling with the bag, I donned my rubber gloves. I’m squeamish, and the produce was organic and straight from the farmer’s fields, so I expected some dirt and a stray bug or two, thus the rubber gloves. I removed the items from the bag and arranged them on the kitchen counter. The first week’s bag contained:
- Spaghetti Squash
- Green Cabbage
- Jalapeño Peppers
- Broccoli Rabe
After taking a photo with my smartphone, I rinsed and washed everything—there was very little dirt and a tiny living thing or two but nothing I couldn’t handle. I put the perishables in the fridge and contemplated what to make for dinner.
The spaghetti squash and jalapeño peppers were set aside for my spouse. I decided to try roasting beets for the first time, with tasty results. Throughout the week, I enjoyed salads with the radishes, spinach, and lettuce. I’d never prepared broccoli rabe so sautéed it in olive oil with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon—it was delicious.
Following Weeks – Fun and Delicious
Each week we had fun discovering what was in the bag. My spouse was elated with the chard, kale, and collard greens. Other items included butternut squash, onion, pumpkin, leeks, cauliflower, pak choi, broccoli, and an herb-like plant I never did identify. My spouse enjoyed the challenge of devising new recipes (especially to get me to eat more greens, I like soup).
We just signed up for the spring share…can’t wait to see what’s in the bag for spring.
5 Reasons to Try Community Supported Agriculture
A variety of CSA programs are widely available across the U.S. so there is sure to be one that meets your needs. Below are 5 reasons to try Community Supported Agriculture:
- Fun – it is fun to eat fruits and vegetables you may not have bought at the grocery market for a long time or in some cases ever. Those who enjoy coming up with recipes will have a constant stream of ingredients to try out. For those that don’t, many CSA’s provide recipe ideas and there is always the Internet or cookbooks.
- Healthy – eating a variety of fresh seasonal produce is good for you. Many CSA farms are organic which ups the healthy factor for you and the planet.
- Carbon Footprint – CSA farms are local so the amount of energy involved in transporting it is low compared to products that travel 1,000 miles or more to the store and then from the store to your home.
- Cost – in many cases CSA produce is comparable in price to what you would pay at a grocery market.
- Local – supporting local farmers keeps your money in your community.