Posted on June 06, 2012
There is nothing like fruits and vegetables freshly picked from the garden but for many growing their own vegetables and fruits is not an option or they can only grow a small amount. I love to grow fresh produce right in my backyard, on my deck and even on the windowsills in my kitchen but my family can’t survive on the small amount we grow each season. I often supplement our own fresh vegetables and fruits with what I can find at the local farmers market. You could say I am a bit of a locavore, or someone who prefers locally grown foods. My meat comes from local farmers and during the growing season so does my produce. Buying locally means your money stays in the community and in return benefits you and your neighbors.
This year I have joined a CSA or Community Supported Agriculture program. A CSA is a great way to support a local farm and get fresh produce all season long. CSA’s work by farmers selling shares of the upcoming season’s crop. The share or membership to the CSA is paid in advance and that money is used to buy seeds, equipment, and other expenses. Selling shares of the crop in advance allows farmers to concentrate their time and money on the crop instead of marketing and at farmers markets. In return a member of the CSA will receive each week a box of produce freshly harvested from the farm.
A great benefit to being a member of a CSA is that your box will be filled with a wide assortment of produce each week, making you will be more inclined to try new a vegetable or fruit. You might have been clueless of how to prepare and a bit frightened of Swiss chard at the grocery store but once it’s in your kitchen you will discover a new appreciation for the green. Having a fresh box of produce thrust upon you each week will also encourage you to cook more at home and in return eat healthier. Plus it’s environmentally friendly since the farmer doesn’t have to waste fuel driving the produce back and forth to market, saving our environment from harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
One of my favorite parts of joining a CSA is visiting the farm. I think it’s great that you can actually go and see where your food is coming from. Walk along the rows of beans or help pick fruit in the orchard. Most CSA’s offer pickups at the farm or at least hold ‘open houses’ for members to visit and learn about the farm. Some farms even offer pick-your-own and classes. Another benefit of going to the farm is taking kids with you. Children love running through the fields, visiting with the animals and learning more about where their food comes from.
Memberships can cost $200 and up making it an investment that should be considered and not jumped into. If you are considering joining a CSA there are a few things you should know before signing up:
Here are a few websites to help you in your search for the perfect CSA for you: