CSA Solutions (1)

Posted on June 28, 2012

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This week’s CSA included more of the delicious strawberries we’ve been enjoying, as well as some sweet and tasty shelling peas.

Participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program can be a great way to ensure that you and your family get a healthy helping of fresh, in-season, fruits and vegetables all summer long.  Sometimes though, all that delicious produce can get a bit overwhelming.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept, a CSA program provides benefits to both the consumer and the farmer.  With most programs, anyone wishing to participate will sign up for a share and pay for a seasons worth of produce in February or March.  This provides the operating capital the farmer needs to purchase any supplies, equipment, or services they may need for the coming season.  It also helps them to accurately estimate how much of any given crop they will need to plant, as they already know exactly how many people they will be feeding.

When the growing season begins and crops start to ripen, CSA members will receive a share, typically 1/2 bushel or so, of the produce that is ripe that week.  Depending on the program, the shares may be picked up directly from the farm or brought to a common drop-off point.

Due to the seasonal nature of this system, each week will result in a different assortment of fresh produce.  (Some CSAs may even include flowers, meat, eggs, or baked goods.)  One week may bring an abundance of greens, while the next brings an influx of tomatoes.  This can sometimes make it difficult to use all of your produce before the next week’s share arrives.  Since nearly 1/3 of all the food produced is wasted, finding a way to use up every last bit is especially important.

The summer 2012 growing season will be my third time participating in a CSA program, and I’ve learned a lot in that time.  The first major lesson was simple: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  In 2010 I purchased a full share, and with only a two-person household to eat it all, there was way too much food.  I ended up giving away quite a lot of food, and some of it still went to waste.  Now I split two shares with three of my neighbors, and the amount of produce is just right.  If you have a big family or do a lot of juicing, I suggest opting for a full share.  If your household is smaller, try splitting the vegetables with friends or neighbors, or purchasing a half share.

Stay tuned for Lesson 2…

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Posted in: Local, Production