Friday, July 20, 2012
CSA: Community Supported Agriculture
By now you all know that I am a big advocate of eating locally and seasonally as much as possible. And if I haven't gotten you to shop at the farmers market already, then I just don't know what to do... Except, maybe, introduce you to a CSA? (wink, wink)
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and it is an amazing option for busy people who want to eat healthier and need a more convenient option than vising the local market. Many farms are now offering CSA "shares" to the public. When you purchase a CSA share, you partner with that particular farm to receive fresh produce each week during the growing season. Usually the CSA share is delivered to a local drop point (not necessarily your house) so you simply stop by and pick it up on your designated day.
The wonderful things about buying a CSA is that it provides you and your family with incredibly fresh, delicious, and varied produce during the growing season while supporting a local farm. Since you are subscribing and purchasing a "share," you will usually receive 5 - 10 % more produce than you could buy at the market for the same cost. Partnering with one farm also gives you the chance to really know the people who grow your food and develop a relationship with that farmer. Pretty cool, huh?
There are many different types of "produce delivery" services out there, which is different from a CSA. Usually in a CSA, all of the produce is coming locally from one farm (e.g. you won't see any oranges in your Washington box) and you receive the produce that is ripe for harvest this week. This means that you will have to be a bit flexible as you won't be able to pick and choose what you receive from week to week. But, this also means that you will be exposed to trying new vegetables that you might not see otherwise!
This week I am teaming up with Oxbow Farm and Education Center to tell you about CSA programs and share with you a bit about their farm. Oxbow is located in Carnation, Washington and their CSA has pick-up locations all around the Seattle area. They currently offer two sizes of boxes depending on your produce needs and their CSA runs for 20 weeks (mid-June - October). Oxbow also has some amazing educational programs for kids and great field trip opportunities. If you are interested in their farm and CSA program, you can read more about it, and if you don't live in the area, you can easily search online for CSA options in your city.
Generally speaking, signing up for a CSA usually happens early in the year before the growing season starts, but some farms allow you to purchase shares mid-way through if they have more available. Each week you will receive a newsletter from the farm telling you what is ripe and what will be available in your box. They will also include recipes, which is especially helpful if you receive unfamiliar items.
This week, I received a complimentary box of produce from Oxbow in exchange for developing some fun recipes. So, now that you know all about CSAs, let's get cooking! Check out these recipes featuring the beautiful produce from Oxbow farm!
Creamy Fennel and Broccoli Soup
Quick Pickled Cauliflower and Fennel