Community Supported Agriculture
by Sandy Swegel
You’ve heard about CSAs by now. Community Supported Agriculture is a system where you pay one flat rate for a weekly share of food from a local farm. It’s a great plan that gives farmers a guaranteed basic income and gives you access to good local food.
“But I have a vegetable garden, why should buy a CSA?”
You’ll become a better gardener and a better cook that’s why.
When you get a CSA share, you not only get a box of vegetables, you get a relationship with a farmer. If you pick up on the farm, here’s what you can learn:
Succession planning. If you pick up on the farm or read your farm’s blog, you’ll see that every week, farmers are doing something new…starting new seed, planting cover crop, letting chickens run on a fallow area, pulling out bolted lettuces. CSA farmers know how to get the max output from the most efficient input. You can learn a lot by going home to your garden and doing what they did.
You’ll learn to love vegetables you thought you hated.
Every year you buy seeds based on your own long-held ideas of what tastes good. If it weren’t for a CSA I would never have learned that turnips are exquisite. I didn’t like turnips as a child. Even growing turnips I’d pick them when it was hot so they had already become a bit bitter. But our CSA harvested turnips young and tender, refrigerated them and sliced thinly. They were beautiful and crunchy and make an awesome Middle-eastern style pickle.
You have a free garden consultant.
If you linger at the farm towards the end of pickup or go to farm-day picnics for CSA members, you can bring all of your garden questions and get expert tips on how to grow better or how to deal organically with pests.
You’ll learn new ways to cook and prepare foods.
Most CSAs have newsletters with recipes for the week’s food share. You’ll get menu ideas and learn cooking techniques you hadn’t thought of. And you’ll learn about vegetables in a new way. Maybe you just grow your favorite tomato, but you’ll learn that a sauce made just of yellow tomatoes gives an entirely different flavor and texture experience.
You’ll eat more vegetables.
The only problem with CSAs is that you get a lot of food. It can feel like a chore at first to have to prepare so much food from scratch. But you want your money’s worth so soon you’ll schedule all that fresh food processing into your week. Vegetables rather than processed foods and meats become the focal point of your diet.
Photo Credit http://tinyfarmblog.com/tag/csa-share/