It’s just that time of year when I start dreaming about the amazing flavors that come out of our summer garden. It won’t be long before I will be digging in that soil, picking some weeds, and harvesting our produce. Even if you’re only working with pots of plentiful herbs or veggies, you know exactly what I’m looking forward to. A tomato just isn’t a tomato when it comes from the grocery store. You know what I’m talking about.
But what if you’re a serious city dweller or your living situation just doesn’t allow you to plant a garden or pots of goodness outside? You CAN try to grow some herbs indoors, but you’ll need to plan to get other farm fresh produce at your fingertips. Frequenting your farmers’ market is always a great option, but summer weekends can get SO busy! Sometimes a trip to the farmers’ market just isn’t an option. You’re not out of luck, my friends.
Try joining a CSA this year! CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it’s your best bet for getting fresh, seasonal, and local produce straight from the farmer. Essentially what happens is a local farmer will offer a certain number of shares to the public of the produce they are growing that year. Those who are interested purchase a “share” and get a delivery each week of farm fresh produce. Most weekly goodies include vegetables, but sometimes they can include other great items like honey, eggs, and fruit, depending on the farm. It’s typical to have the option of picking up your share from the farm itself or from a nearby “drop off point”. The CSA I was a part of about five years ago and others I’ve researched do a pretty good job of offering a good selection of drop off points. This is a great thing because then you aren’t using up extra gas to pick up your share of goods – if you’re out shopping for your standard groceries, you can make a quick stop at the drop off point.
The price, you ask? Usually fairly reasonable, based on what you’re getting. Remember, you’re getting a sizable amount of a variety of produce each week, typically from May/June through September/October. Some CSA’s even offer year round options. Full and half shares of produce are available so you can choose an amount of food that will fit your household. All share sizes differ, but if there is just one or two of you, I would not attempt a full share! It could be huge! Through some online price comparisons, I’m seeing around $500 as a pretty standard price for a full share. Priced out over a 20 week CSA season, you’re getting $25 worth of produce each week. I don’t know about you, but we are spending close to that each week at the grocery store on produce…and I’ll tell you what, grocery produce isn’t as fresh as this stuff! What you’ll be getting from a CSA is straight from the ground and likely picked that morning – the antioxidants in produce are SO plentiful when food is freshly picked. Looking for a cheaper option? Some farms even let you pitch in and help with sorting the produce, weeding, or picking to get a discount on your share. Do your research and ask plenty of questions – each CSA is different!
Super fun bonus…enjoying produce that you might not pick out yourself at the grocery store or farmers’ market! It’s so great to open your bag or box of goodies and find something you don’t recognize or haven’t tried before – take that opportunity to whip up a new recipe. Some CSA’s even include recipes in their delivery to guide you through the adventures of farm fresh produce eating. My first experience with eating a kohlrabi came about from a CSA delivery – yum! I found this photo on Google Images to give you an example of what a delivery of produce might look like…look at all that color!
If joining a CSA is of any interest to you, sign up now! Visit LocalHarvest to find a farm near you that is offering this great opportunity. Remember that there is a limited amount of shares per farm and the reputable farms will sell out soon! Secure your share as soon as you can. And I don’t mean to sound lame, but getting your delivery of produce is like opening up a little treasure chest of treats each week – SO FUN!
If you’ve gotten a share from a CSA in past years and had a good experience, please comment below to let us know which farm it was, where you’re from, and provide some feedback! Let’s support the local farmer!