This season, we joined a CSA! I am counting down the minutes until our first delivery, which is during the last week of April. It cannot come soon enough, I am so excited. But why did we join? There are only two of us (humans) in our household, and we have a small garden of our own. A CSA membership can be pricey and the farm might not always send things we like. I have to pickup the produce, and I might not know what to do with all of these unfamiliar veggies. Do these sound like some reasons you’ve come up with for NOT joining a CSA? I’ve considered all of these and more, but we did it anyway! And here are the reasons why we joined!
First off, let’s start with a definition of a Community Shared Agriculture program (CSA) from our farm, Alstede Farms:
The basic idea of CSA farming is a cooperative relationship between the farmer and his customers. Based on an annual commitment to one another, community members provide a pre-season payment to purchase a “share” of the season’s harvest. The member then receives a weekly box of a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruit through the growing season, harvested at the peak of ripeness and flavor.
Price– The price we paid for the Personal Share, which will be plenty for just the two of us, works out to about $21 per week. I don’t have exact figures, but we certainly spent, and wasted, more than that on fruits and veggies last year. Plus we received vouchers for free pies. That was almost reason enough for me! 😉
Length of the Season– Our CSA starts the last week in April and will run until the end of November! I am as excited about early season asparagus and herbs, as I am for corn and tomatoes mid season, and late season squash and pumpkins!
Stocking up– With our share, we also picked up a new small freezer for our basement. We plan to freeze leftover fruits and veggies to use all winter long. The farm provides tips and tricks for freezing their items. We also canned tomatoes from our garden last year, and plan on canning more items this year! I will have a post on canning soon for my Gardening 101 series, it’s easier than you think!
Freshness- You can’t get much fresher than a produce delivery straight from the farm! We’re supporting a local business, and getting the best quality produce we can. Plus, since I’m picking up our share around the corner from my office, it’s quite convenient for me!
Organic– The farm offers a sustainably grown, organic, locally grown Non-GMO product! Since they’re picked at the peak of freshness, we’re really getting the best produce we can get!
Variety– The farm grows over 250 different fruits and vegetables, so we are ensured a wide variety. Plus, since the farm is putting together our share, they are guaranteed to include items that I wouldn’t choose from the grocery store. Also, since our garden is pretty basic, we will have a small amount of duplicates, but mostly new items. Kohlrabi or muskmelon anyone?!
Healthy Eating– Who doesn’t want to eat healthier? Especially during the Spring and Summer, when fresh fruits and veggies taste their best. There is nothing better than grilling some veggies, and having some fresh fruit for dessert. We will not want to waste any of our share, so we are sure to eat healthier!
Recipe Book– Each week we will receive a newsletter to introduce us to the produce in our share, and all of its culinary possibilities. The farm offers recipes each week, and a full online resource, so we should never run out of preparation ideas!
Herbs & Honey– I love love love cooking with lots of herbs, and I am so excited to receive fresh herbs in our share. We are growing a few options in our garden, but I can never have enough herbs. Also, we receive locally harvested honey with our share as well! I might take a stab at a Greek Baklava!
Bonus items– When the farm has extra produce, they pass it along to their members. In checking out the schedule from last year, there were plenty of weeks with Bonus items.
Smoothies– With farm fresh kale, spinach and fruits in steady supply, I will never be out of my smoothie stock. I plan on chopping and freezing any extras to bulk up my smoothies!
Eggs– We can add farm fresh eggs to any week of our share, for a minimal fee. Have you tasted farm fresh eggs?! They are crazy good. I’m afraid once we get used to these, we won’t be able to go back to not having them year round.
Highly Recommended– The particular CSA we joined came highly recommended, from several members of my honey’s family. I have a few other friends who have relied on other farms for their CSA shares through the years, and swear by it! Plus, it’s fun to join with other people you know, so you can discover new produce and cook them together!
I hope that you take some of my reasons into consideration when deciding if a CSA share is right for your family! If you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments!