Folks in the current environmental, organic, eco-conversation often toss around words and phrases as if everyone else knew what they meant. They talk about worms, composting, organic matter, ph balance, and the NPK. BpA, phtalates, and biodegradable items. I found myself instantly lost a few months ago in a conversation about the difference between organic and biodynamic wines. I sat staring at a wine steward like he was speaking French (I was down the street from my house). There are thousands of tricky side conversations that I often nod and smile at (and then race home and look everything up on Google).
As spring begins to surrender to summer many folks I know (green or not) are all a twitter about CSA’s. Which, stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, a CSA is a local farm (typically within 100 miles of where you live) where residents of nearby communities can purchase a share/lot for a whole growing season. What this means is that you basically pay in advance for a weekly or bi-monthly delivery of crops from a local farm.
Whatever is in season and grew well, you get. Farmers will truck the produce up to a centralized drop off site (usually a community center, church or even a neighbor’s home). Everyone in your area who paid to join the CSA can go pick up his/her produce on that day. Easy Peasy.
Why do a CSA? Fresh food grown close to home. High in nutrients since it will likely be consumed close to the date harvested. A great way to meet your farmer, connect with neighbors and try new foods. Why not try it? You don’t get much of a choice in produce, you get what the farm grew. Sometimes this is a box of delicious carrots and sweet potatoes, spinach and sugar snap peas. Other times, this means turnips and lots of onions.
Want to try a CSA? Typically farms sign up families during the winter but a few in your area may still be taking good folks like you. Consider splitting a plot with another family the first time around to be sure you like it. The FDA website has a listing of CSA’s across the country http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml
Not sure yet? Keep on visiting your local farmer’s markets this summer as they begin to open. Often farms in your area who offer CSA’s will also show up at your Farmer’s Markets . . . . . and you get more of a choice.
Got a CSA story to share? We’d love to hear it here? I keep meeting great folks who are really trying to decide if a CSA is for them. Please let us know what you have learned along the way or if you are rookie, what questions you have? Good, bad or otherwise! And remember, you can win some great stuff as we are in week #4 of our Earth Aware journey through Lent!