We received an email from our CSA farm yesterday to let us know that our first pickup will be June 9, and will probably include green garlic, salad greens, and salad turnips, among other things. Yum!
A CSA farm stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and here's how it works: The farmers sell "shares" of their yearly crops to community members. Shares are usually bought and sold in late winter or early spring, so that some of the money can be used to buy seed. Then, during the growing season, the farmers provide the members with a weekly allotment of fresh produce, based on what is available. This means that if it's a bumper year for tomatoes, you'll get a ton of tomatoes. But if it hails in August and destroys most of the tomato crop, you may not get any tomatoes at all. By becoming a member of a CSA, you agree to share in the bounty, and sometimes the losses, in the fields with the farmers. And isn't that how it should be, really?
Our CSA share currently costs $525 per year. This may seem like a lot, but consider that a share feeds 4 people with all the vegetables they could eat from June into September. Since we're a household of 2, we can freeze or store up to half our share for use after the growing season is over. This is a great way to continue to eat local all year round.
Other reasons it's a great deal: Our CSA grows its produce organically. Since organic produce is often more expensive in the store, I believe we are saving a lot of money by supporting our CSA. In addition, we pick up our share from the farm each week, so we can talk to the farmers and see how they are treating the land. If you want to trust the food you eat, a CSA is as transparent as it gets. All CSAs do things a little differently, but ours allows members to go into the fields and pick their own veggies for certain products when they are in abundance. Last year we took advantage of the bounty of flowers, green beans, and basil- making and freezing enough pesto to get us through the entire Minnesota winter. Yum!
Our grocery bill goes down considerably during the summer because of our CSA share, and we end up eating a wider variety of fresh vegetables more often because we have such an abundance. Plus, I know I'm supporting my local farmer and sustainable agriculture with every one of those 525 dollars. I encourage everyone to visit www.localharvest.org where you can find a CSA near you.