Monday, May 18, 2009

CSA Adventure: Week 1

After two summers of trying to cultivate a container garden, Steve and I have thrown in the towel when it comes to fresh produce in our own backyard. We just don't get enough sun, anywhere--our lot is narrow and surrounded by huge trees, throwing shade on most of the property for most of the day. But we long to eat fresh produce, grown organically and locally.

Enter the CSA. LocalHarvest.org explains:
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 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
• Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never
been known to eat
• Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

Steve and I have joined a brand-new CSA partnership with two local farms. Each week for the next 26 weeks, we'll receive approximately half a bushel of fresh produce, plus half a dozen farm-fresh eggs from pastured chickens and a selection of 100% grass-fed beef.

We view this as an investment in our health and an investment in the community. It's a huge step for us toward eating more naturally.

This week's bounty:
  • leaf lettuce
  • spinach
  • radishes
  • fresh herbs (chives, oregano, sage, thyme, chocolate mint)
  • herbal fruit tea
  • an oregano plant
  • lavender and spearmint flowers
  • 6 farm-fresh eggs
  • 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
My first thought: What on earth do I do with radishes?

This summer is definitely going to be a stretching one. The "catch" to a CSA is that you don't get a say in what you receive. You get what's in season, not what you like or what's familiar. This can be a good thing, for a lot of reasons: it's best to eat food in season; you'll have opportunities to try new things you might not otherwise be exposed to; you'll eat a wider variety of foods. But it also means you'll have to branch out from what's familiar and learn to cook with new flavors.

I spent quite a bit of time Friday and Saturday looking up recipes online (what did we ever do before the Internet??). Allrecipes.com taught me that even people who don't like radishes raw find them very enjoyable when cooked--so I'm eager to try out a couple of those recipes. I've got sage and mint hanging to dry (we got a slew of mint, and I don't know what to do with it--I don't like tea), but I'm hoping to use at least some of the thyme, oregano and chives fresh. Lots of new things on the Kannel menu over the next few days--we'll see how it goes!

5 comments:

cincychelle said...

Thanks for posting about this again, Amy. I read your previous blog post about the CSA and then we actually talked about it when you were here...but I never looked into it any further. Chris and I are definitely interested in getting on board with this...we just have to do our research on the best farm option!

Brenna Kater, the Oceanskater said...

I just posted a salad dressing recipe in my blog that involves mint and is very good :)

dancebythelight said...

So exciting! I'd love to join a CSA, as our veggie patch is so small, but don't know if I can convince Josh. It would be a bit more than we pay for veggies each week to join the CSA, but we'd be getting so much, I'm sure I could even freeze some of it for winter. So, who knows if we'll ever join one! :)

B,P,R,S & L said...

Sounds awesome!!!

Jill said...

Way to go Amy! We are trying a garden for the first time this year,and I am really excited. We will also get some produce from the farmer's market. Let me know if you find any good recipes!