I heard about CSAs a few years ago from a co-worker. You can read more about them here, but basically CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are a way for farmers and people local to them to work together. The benefits for the farmer include receiving money up front and sharing some of the risk. The benefits for the consumer include weekly (sometimes bi-weekly) fresh, local, seasonal produce, and knowing exactly where the food is coming from. It seems like a largely win-win arrangement.
We have wanted to join a CSA since I first heard about it from my co-worker. We liked the idea of buying local food and knowing where it comes from. We also think (hope) that having already paid for and receiving a weekly box of fresh produce will encourage us to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. We also found this wonderful cookbook, The New Southern Garden Cookbook, by Sheri Castle, which got me even more interested in joining a CSA. The cookbook is organized by ingredient and focuses on using what you have an abundance of, usually what’s in season. The recipes are amazing; they seem to be an excellent mix of somewhat traditional preparations and different ways of using the same old produce. All of the sections begin with some information on traditional use, growing methods, etc for that particular food, which makes for interesting reading. Having this cookbook removed that last little bit of doubt about what we would end up doing with produce that we weren’t as familiar with.
But it just didn’t work out for us to join a CSA for a few years. It seemed that we couldn’t find a place with a convenient pick-up location, that offered half shares (a full share just seems like way too much for only two people), that was within our budget, that wasn’t already full.
This year, though, I put joining a CSA on the calendar for January because we didn’t want to be too late and miss out. We finally found one that offers half-shares and a pick-up location about 15 minutes from both of our office buildings with hours that will easily allow one of us to pick up our box every week. This CSA offers a payment plan of one third down and the rest paid over the next two months, which definitely makes it easier on the budget. It also seems like this farm will be a good fit for us as their shares focus more on fruits and vegetables and less on herbs (which we plan to grow ourselves again this year) and fresh flowers (which are lovely, but not safe with our quirky quartet of cats).
We sent our application and down payment in at the beginning of the month and yesterday we received our confirmation email. We’re officially in! The pick-ups should start sometime in late May and they will be in touch with us closer to that time. Now we just have to pay the remaining balance and wait, and of course decide which recipes we want to try.