Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spring must be around the corner - I got my CSA registration!!

It is frigid outside and that darn groundhog saw his shadow on Monday so now we have 6 more long weeks of winter...but I received an email yesterday that gives me hope that spring isn't too far away.

I received my registration form for our local CSA. CSA stands for "community supported agriculture". Our CSA happens to be certified organic and this is how we are able to afford to eat as much organic produce as we do. A CSA is when community members pay a local farmer an annual fee to cover the farm's production costs. In return members receive a weekly "share" of fresh, local, in season produce. Wikipedia's description describes it in further detail.

Our CSA share lasts 28 weeks from May thru November; it usually ends right before Thanksgiving. We purchase a half share which is usually enough produce to last us a week or less, but for us the whole share would be too much. With our CSA, if we prepay by April 1st, our payment is $374 for 28 weeks or $13.36 of organic produce a week. You have to break down the weekly payment to really understand the savings. There is no way I could buy this much organic produce at a grocery store for $13.36 a week. The weekly share follows the local harvest schedule which is posted on our CSA's website. June is one of my favorite months because we get strawberries and if you have never had a local organic strawberry - it is heaven. August and September are BIG months with loads of tomatoes, peppers, onions and summer squashes. I also look forward to fall with the winter squashes, sweet potatoes and kale - yummy!!

Another plus about a CSA is that my family is learning to eat and love veggies that I never would have thought to buy, like kale, swiss chard, and collard greens. This will be our sixth year with our CSA and I had never eaten those three greens before we were members.

While there are still costs with the CSA, I just don't have the yard space or time to garden where I would harvest this much produce. I do have a small garden where I grow a couple of extra tomato plants and peppers for freezing. In another month or so I am going to start to plan out my little garden spot.

Another perk of our CSA is that they have occasional "you pick" days on their farm. They are usually on Saturdays and it gives us extra produce at no additional cost. Our farm also has a potluck picnic sometime during the year and last year at the picnic they gave out extra produce again at no additional cost. I think I came home with at least 3 weeks worth of extra produce such as peppers, carrots, onions, and winter squashes. I promptly cleaned and chopped it up and put it in the freezer.

Is eating organic important to you? Are you members of a local CSA?

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