There are many practical reasons you’d want to join a CSA (community supported agriculture), beyond being a do-gooder. Here’s a list of things you should know if you’re a farm share holder, or even thinking of buying a share at a local CSA.
You’re probably going to get more food than you can eat in a week, especially in the middle of summer. If you can swing it, plan on purchasing a chest freezer so you can cook and save food rather than tossing it in the garbage or compost pile. Saving and eating all the food you can makes the farm share even more valuable.
Talk to share holders at the farm you’re thinking of joining, before you buy the share. It’s a good idea to get the opinions of a few people, especially about how much food to expect each week.
Following up on that, you might want a half share even for a 3 person family, depending on how much food you can expect.
If you’re a family of 4, you eat out a lot, and you don’t think that lifestyle will change much even with a farm share, then buy a half share. Again, it depends on how much food comes each week, but wasting food doesn’t make sense.
There isn’t anything that says you couldn’t join a couple of different CSAs. Depending on where you live, there are food shares of produce, dairy, eggs, bread, and seafood. Often times, your local CSA farm will advertise complementary CSAs in the area.
If you want to be creative, in advance choose some new recipes for your food. For two reasons I make that suggestion: 1) it’ll save time to know what you’ll do with that kohlrabi before it comes, and 2) if kohlrabi is new to you like it was me, it’s intimidating to be introduced to food you’re not familiar with. Getting the most from your farm share means taking advantage of opportunities.
Throughout the year of my farm share I’m gathering information, creating videos, writing blog posts, and in general thinking about CSAs. All that material is gathering on the farm report page.
What else should people know? Leave a comment below and I’ll update the post.
This is week two of the farm share with the Riverland Farm CSA, and the food accumulation is already starting to get out of control. Looks like I’ll have to start having cabbage and broccoli for breakfast, just to use everything in a week.
Here’s the list of things I picked up, and I might be going back for sugar snap peas if they send an email.
I had a pretty good weekend, farm share-wise, because I received this in my email Saturday morning:
With the warm weather many more strawberries have ripened as well as some snow peas and sugar snap peas are now ready for picking. If you have already come to pick you are welcome to come back and pick again up to the limits on the board.
Last week was the first food pick-up, and they’re already calling me back for more? Damn cool. Talking to a friend that’s a member of two different CSAs, he said neither one gave him as much food as I received from Riverland Farm.
Adding the sugar snap peas and quart of strawberries I picked-up (2 pounds total), that brings my food weight total to 8.25 pounds.
One quick tip for you, based on going back for seconds Saturday: one of the criteria for choosing a CSA should be location. How far is the pick-up from your home? If there’s a chance of getting called back for more food, and you’re inclined to take advantage of those opportunities, then living too far away might discourage you. Riverland Farm is less than a mile from my house. Hoping down there for extras isn’t a big deal, but if I had to drive 15-20 minutes, I might think twice about going back. Location is something to consider.
Back Friday with another farm report.
Photo by CaptPiper and republished here under a Creative Commons license.
Picked up my first ever farm share from Riverland Farm yesterday. Boy, I was impressed with the operation and the amount of food I got in the half share I bought. Here’s the breakdown of what I picked up, for a total of 6.25 pounds (I misstated the total in the video). I’ll be keeping a running total each week of the pounds of produce I haul in.
I received Riverland Currents this morning, the weekly newsletter from the CSA (community supported agriculture) I joined this year. It was interesting, though not exactly what I was expecting. Actually, I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe news about how a tractor broke down, the weather was too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, or maybe even photos showing off the sun tans the farmers have already developed?
Instead, the newsletter had a lot of talk about maggots of all varieties: seed corn maggots and cabbage root maggots, among others (the photo above is of maggots eating broccoli roots). The details about maggots and their prevention!
This has been a threat for us every year so over the last 2 years we developed a system to deal with cabbage root maggots which involves getting row cover on the crop the very same day we put it in the ground. The row cover acts as a physical barrier preventing adult maggot flies from laying eggs on the plants that in turn hatch into maggot larvae and feed on the roots of the young seedlings. After two years of great success using this row cover method this year we inexplicably were still hit hard with root maggots underneath the row cover.
Impressive stuff. I guess that’s part of what you pay for with a CSA share: information about the food source. Though I never thought about maggot news. When you’re shopping in a big grocery store with little signs proclaiming “local produce!”, they never mention maggots next to the photo of some hardscrabble Farmer Brown.
Photo by mcav0y and republished here under a Creative Commons license.
In that photo there is what I’m hoping to be hauling in my food box next week: pounds of strawberries (among other goodies).
On June 9th I’ll be picking up a box of food from the local CSA (community supported agriculture) I joined, Riverland Farm. We’ll see, but it should be a great deal. I’ve done a few things to feel like I’m getting the most from my investment:
I’ll be blogging about my weekly food pick-up, and maybe create some videos too (reviving my Farm Report feature).
I’m writing a book about how to maximize the value of your farm share, or any other kind of CSA share. That’s a work in progress that will hopefully be finished when I pick up my last box in October. I’ve been working on the outline for a few weeks.
The farm share, a weekly box of organic vegetables, is the foundation of a lifestyle change I’m trying to make. By the end of these 23 weeks I’m hoping to hard wire more healthy eating habits into my brain (and body, obviously).
Quick Tip: as a member of the UMassFive Credit Union, I receive a no-interest loan to pay for the farm share (paid off over 6 months). It’s a great deal for low income people to give them access to great local food, plus it supports the farming community. Maybe your credit union gives loans like that?
There are a lot of small farm or garden stands in Western Mass. I drive or cycle by them all the time (in season): little tables set up in front of a house with berries, asparagus, corn, sometimes flowers … all kinds of things that are grown locally.
Often times these stands are off the main street you might be driving on, but only 30 seconds out of your way. Take for example Route 9 in Hadley; off the top of my head I can think of 6 little tables set up 30 seconds driving off Route 9.
These little operations get business based on traffic driving by … until now.
This year I would love to see how much business we can give these little operations. The trick is to know where they are and some of the produce they normally carry. I’ll need your help to create this map.
Please spread the word about the map. Post it on your site if you’d like. And if you’re a grower, or otherwise have a contribution to the map, please leave the relevant information in the comments below; leave the exact address with a brief note about what the stand normally stocks and I’ll add it to the Google map. I’ve started the map off with some little stands near my house in Sunderland.
Let’s support our local growers and see how locally we can eat this summer.
Asparagus is going to start popping soon in the Pioneer Valley. But what does it look like before you buy it at your local farm stand? Check out the video.
Also, did you know that a popular movie and book begins its narrative in Western Mass? The Mosquito Coast, written by Paul Theroux (then made into a movie starring Harrison Ford) begins in Hatfield, MA, with the local asparagus growing and picking culture as a backdrop.
I’ve been thinking about doing a daily video podcast for a while now, inspired by two different people: ZeFrank (very popular daily video before people were really doing such things) and David Lynch (his daily [kind of] weather report).
I now present to you, Farm Report. Why Farm Report? I live on a farm. They’re interesting because it’s a natural food factory.
In addition to farming I’ll probably report on other experiences, but rather than confuse the hell out of you by creating a different show for each of my interests, let’s call this Farm Report.