Lacking a green thumb? No yard? Limited time? Or all of the above?!
Not everyone can grow their own grub, despite a growing desire to do so. But fear not. Farmers are coming to our rescue in droves via Community Supported Agriculture.
Commonly referred to as CSA’s, a farm that has a CSA program sells shares of their harvest directly to consumers. In return you receive a basket of fresh, seasonal vegetables and herbs every week. Some also offer fruit, free range meat, cage-free eggs, local honeys and syrups, cheese and even flowers and extras such as recipes, weekly newsletters, U-picks and farm festivals. Most of the CSA’s have pick-up points throughout the region but there are some that will deliver to your door.
Most farms offer a full share for large families or a ½ share for smaller households. If you don’t know how many vegetables you can consume in a week or can’t afford the initial outlay of cash, delve in by sharing your share with someone and then plan accordingly for the following year. I found that I couldn’t keep up with a ½ share so I split it with my neighbor which eliminated waste and reduced the cost.
So aside from the obvious culinary benefits of CSA’s, why else should you partake? Because it’s a win-win for all!
It is good for the farmers in that this system supplies them with seed money (quite literally) to plant and maintain their crops and in the end there is a guaranteed and defined demand. The arrangement also ensures fair compensation for their labor.
It is good for the community because the money is generated and spent locally, thus strengthening the local economy.
It is good for the consumer because the food is fresh from the field and therefore more nutritious, flavorful and diverse. Without the involvement of all the middlemen, transportation and packaging, it is also easier on the pocketbook.
And finally, it is good for the environment, all the way from field to fork. Farmers can grow a wider variety of produce that don’t have to hold up to mass consumption and long distance transportation, thus supporting biodiversity and sustainable growing practices. The reduced transportation miles minimizes greenhouse gas emissions. Packaging also leaves a huge footprint on the environment from manufacturing to disposal. So the elimination of this is very beneficial to the environment as well.
So, you ask, “Where do I sign up?” Don’t despair. Many farms still have room for more share-holders. You’ll just have to do a little digging;)
The following links will lead you in the right direction:
Farm Fresh Atlas (Look for the blue “CSA” squares.)