I had been wanting to join a CSA for YEARS. There were some available in the New York City area, but I never participated because I didn't think I could get to some pick up location at the same time weekly. After moving, it was one of the first things I looked into. I looked through the offerings on Local Harvest, and signed up for the first one that opened up applications for the spring/summer season. But that was way back in NOVEMBER, and I still had to wait until MAY for the CSA to start! This is totally normal, and how the whole process works, I was just so excited to get going with it.
CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture," which has been increasing in popularity for the past decade, and has really started to boom in the past couple of years. A farm accepts shareholders who pay a bulk amount at the beginning of the growing season. Many farms offer full- or half-shares, depending on the size of your household. The farmer uses that money for seeds and supplies, etc., and when harvest season comes around, the shareholders receive a weekly box of vegetables -- and/or eggs, meat, flowers, or whatever the specific program offers -- for the length that the program runs. I like it especially because I know that my money goes directly to a local farmer, and I know I am getting the freshest, in-season produce that is grown right in my area.
I am looking forward to the challenge of cooking with what is available, rather than purchasing out-of-season sub-par ingredients that have been marked up a million times. One draw back that some people might find is that you might not have control over vegetables you receive. A picky eater might want to locate a CSA where you have the option to switch out items or one where you purchase credits and can use them weekly for the specific produce you want. Personally, I hope to find some mysteries in my box this summer. I encourage anyone interested in finding out more to take a look at the Local Harvest website.
As for my CSA, I think I got lucky in the program I joined. I am getting a half share weekly from Elysian Fields Farm, which will provide me with yummy veggies for the next 20 weeks. The farm practices organic and sustainable agriculture, which is a huge selling point to me. This is my first weeks takings:
I've been snacking on the strawberries and radishes straight up, and have used the lettuce for lunchtime salads. Last night I used the turnips and their greens for a simple soup from The Art of Simple Food (and it was GOOD). I am thinking of trying kale chips with the kale, and the spinach is reserved for a bed for my potato salad I'm bringing to a family dinner tonight (which also includes someofthem radishes).
Does anyone else participate in a CSA? Let me know. I love hearing about different types of programs.