What is a CSA and how do I join one? A CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is a partnership with a local farmer. You pay in advance for a subscription or a share of their produce. They range in number of weeks and scope. Each week you receive a share of the freshly picked, in season produce. Traditionally a full share is enough to feed a family of 4. Some farmers are limited to the number of subscriptions they can offer and others plant according to the number of subscriptions they sell. Some farmers also offer shares of other products such as milk, eggs, meats, fruit and flowers.
Many of these farmers will have designated drop off days and locations so you don’t need to travel to the farm but of course that will cost extra. Check with your local farmer.
Now keep in mind you need to be a family that cooks regularly and likes vegetables. Also you need to be able to accept change. Sometimes different crops have a larger bounty and others not so much. Either way you will have a weekly box of fresh food to eat.
Oh, and in case you’ve not heard, eating locally grown produce is good for both your body and our earth on so many levels. This is a great way to support your local farmer and have fresh produce all season long without you doing all the work of growing it yourself. If you’re like me the only place for a garden would be my front lawn and the homeowners association frowns upon that.
From my experience I always seem to miss out because I wait too long to sign up and they are all sold out of subscriptions. Check with your local farm for the dates when they open up subscriptions. The Washington Post ran a listing of the local CSA farms in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania which is very helpful.
If you live outside that area you can search anywhere in the U.S. at Local Harvest.
Please let us know if you sign up with a CSA this year. If you have already experienced this please leave a comment with your impressions. Thank you.
We're already signed up for our second year with Bull Run Mountain farm in VA. We loved the experience last year, and the proprietor Leigh, will let shareholders come out to the farm before the regular season starts to gather eggs or cut your own asparagus or rhubarb. He also hosts a potluck during the summer for shareholders (talk about some good food!).
Biggest lesson I learned first year was not to save something for the end of the week; try and cook it within the first two or three days. If I planned to make something a day or two before the next week's pickup, something would happen and dinner wouldn't get made, then we'd get new vegetables to use and the old ones would go bad. I'm embarrassed to think how much good food I wasted by waiting (even when meal planning).
DE in D.C. Great advice! I think I'm going to give this a try. There are a few veggies I can't eat and some I don't like but am willing to try. I guess if I'm not going to cook them right away I'll need to share them with someone else. Any takers? -Diane