I can’t remember how I heard about Community Supported Agriculture, but I’m glad I did. My husband and I selected Harvest Moons in Wisconsin who has a pick up weekly on Fridays at the LUSH Wine & Spirits store near us on Roscoe. We have had fun for the past few weeks picking up our box and utilizing the fresh produce inside. Last week it was spinach, lettuce, rhubarb, asparagus, cilantro, radishes, chard, and garlic scapes. This week brought us asparagus, strawberries, lettuce, beet greens, spinach, oviation mix, and swiss chard. I’d never even heard of garlic scape before and had never cooked with rhubarb! We chose to do the half share because they said the full share is more for 4 people in a household. I have to agree — the half share is forcing us to incorporate a good amount of veggies into every meal! Please read below for more information on why I think CSAs are worth it and how they typically work.
Over the last 20 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer:
Advantages for farmers:
- Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
- Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
- Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow
Advantages for consumers:
- Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
- Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
- Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
- Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown
CSAs aren’t confined to produce. Some farmers include the option for shareholders to buy shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies.
I think it’s better than Whole Foods and more convenient than going to a Farmer’s Market. For more information, here is the Harvest Moons website: http://www.harvestmoonorganics.com/CSA_and_Farmers_Market.html