Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture

Last week's weather was a taunting  preview of a path towards spring, sun, grass, park days and farmers markets.  Unfortunately, MN won't see spring for another three months or more {sigh}.  But this doesn't deter me from some spring time planning.  It is time to find your CSA farm.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) "consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes...the community's farm...In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production." (for more read here: National Agriculture Library)

We participated in a CSA farm in Baltimore, MD and had a terrific experience.  It works like this.  Before spring, you sign up and pay for a share of the farm's harvest.  We had a summer share, May through October.  Some farms may have spring and winter shares as well.  Each week we picked up a wax box full of the farm's harvest, recipes (necessary for those greens I've never tasted before) and newsletters.  We split our share with friends (which we will do again this year) and had enough food for both of our families.  Each week we took turns picking up our share and dividing the goods among us.  

Many of the CSA farms are certified organic as ours was.  They also offered fresh eggs.  We were allowed unlimited access to pick-your-own strawberries and blackberries when they were in season.  The farm offered discounted rates for shareholders who volunteered to work on the farm.  I've heard of farms offering baked goods such as bread and pies. In some cases farms will have a meat share as well. As you can see there are many options out there.

A good resource for finding a CSA close to you (they are all over the country) is Local Harvest.  By entering your zip code, the site will find the nearest CSA farms.  Keep in mind that many farms offer different pick up locations which in our case saves us a 45 minute drive.  Two things that were important to us when choosing a farm was 1) are they certified organic and 2) are they still within driving distance so we can participate in any farm events.  

Its fun to see as a family where your food is coming from and to feel connected with the farm.  I love that we can directly support our local farmers and that my family will be eating the best the earth has to offer.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

We are signing up for one of these this year. Thanks for all of the info Dinah!