Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Community Sponsored Agriculture


I know that Community Sponsored Agriculture has been around for years, especially in places with longer growing seasons and more metropolitan areas. It’s even been around for a few years here in Amish Country on the East Coast. But for some reason, this is the first year that my family has gotten involved.

This has to be one of the greatest things of all times. Seriously. Let me break it down for those who are unaware of the glory of CSA. Community Sponsored Agriculture is pretty much what the name implies - you purchase “shares” and through your funds, farmers are able to provide organic produce. Here in Lancaster, the CSA season runs from the beginning of May to the end of October. That’s 24 weeks of fresh produce. The cost for a full share, which is a box every week, is $500. 24 weeks divided by $500 equals roughly $20 per week. And what does that $20 get you? Here was this past week’s share:

5 small red slicing tomatoes
5 large red slicing tomatoes
4 green bell peppers
12 ears of sweet corn
2 onions
1 large eggplant
1 sweet dumpling squash
2 yellow straight neck squash
1 bag of fresh lima beans

All organic, all locally grown produce, which is usually picked less than 24 hours before it’s in your hot little hands. You simply can’t beat that, even if you bought all of this at a farmer’s market. And if a weekly delivery is too much for you, you can do a half-share, which is a delivery every other week. Each week is different and is dictated by the growing season. So far this year, we’ve seen plenty of heirloom lettuce and tomatoes, fresh herbs, bok choy, plenty of gourmet mushrooms, and all sorts of onions and leeks.
And not only do they offer vegetables, but during the year, they offer organic and hormone free eggs, milk, cheeses, and honeys, at very reasonable prices.

They also make it very easy for those cooks who aren’t familiar with all the produce and send out emails with recipes and ideas for using each week’s share. It’s a great excuse to try different vegetables and herbs that you normally wouldn’t grab at the grocery store.

Although it’s too late for most places to sign-up, I highly recommend you put this on your list for next year’s offerings. And if you’ve participated in your area’s CSA, I’d love to hear how you are enjoying it and what’s been your favorite part of it.


milsom said...

i love our csa (http://www.bewiseranch.com). i really like the variety and being surprised with what shows up in our box. although sometimes we can be drowning in a particular vegetable if it's offered a couple weeks in a row (lettuce was a recent one. carrots at one point too). the advantage we have in san diego is that ours is year-round. awesome!

Maria said...

I need to do this next summer. We do go to the local farmer's market every week and I am in heaven! The produce is fabulous!

Catherine said...

amazing photograph!

kickpleat said...

whoa, that photo took my breath away. beautiful!

Anonymous said...

That's awesome! wish I had known about it before -Natalie