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Get Real: Buying Local and CSA’s

**This post is part of the Get Real series. Please remember that this is meant as a learning community. We know that many of you are passionate about what you do and we want you to express that, just please do so in a way that will be an encouragement and aid to others making a transition. We want this to be a “safe space” for participants to learn. For that reason, we reserve the right to delete any comments that are not handled in this manner.

Buy Local. You hear it everywhere these days even in credit card commercials. The importance of buying local is so important in our economy today and for the future generations. Why not start with buying local food? It’s simple, something you use often, keeps you up with seasonal produce and brings you closer to your community.

This is the bounty of my very first CSA share

Community Supported Agriculture or CSA shares are ways for you to buy produce from your local farmer during peak growing season and even throughout the year depending on where you live. CSA farms provide shares or memberships to the public and in exchange they provide you with a box, bag or basket of produce available that week. Most farms have you pick up either on site, at their stand at your local farmers market, or at a pick up location that is supported through other members. There are Pros and Cons to having a CSA share.

PROS:

  • Farmers receive money early in the season to help with their cash flow and to keep them out making your produce the best it can be throughout the season.
  • There is a symbiotic relationship between you and the farmer which you both get to know each other better.
  • If there is a problem with your produce, you can go directly to the source. No worries about a nation or worldwide recall.
  • You get the produce at it’s peak freshness. Providing you with all of the nutrient benefits and flavor potential.
  • Getting new produce that you may never have tried before, expanding your palettes.
  • Getting to know where and how your food grows is a great learning experience especially for children.
  • Some farms even have days where you can come and explore the farm.

CONS:

  • Some CSA’s you do not get to choose the produce you get every week.
  • You are taking a risk and gamble on mother nature. For example, we had a brutal late freeze in our first year of joining a CSA which wiped out an entire crop of fruit trees, so our fruit shares were very limited. Although MOST farms will find a way of making it up to you. We got apple cider which was delicious and some extra apples for canning.
  • It can be a lot of money upfront if you aren’t prepared for it.
  • You may still have to supplement your share with other produce depending on your area and variety you receive.
  • Most farms do their best to provide you with enough for the servings that you requested. Although their portions may be different than your expectations.

How do you get started?

Canning is a great way to preserve your over-abundance from your shares

Head over to Local Harvest and do a search for the closest CSA farm near you. If the farm doesn’t have a website, give them a call and ask them about their shares.

  • How much do they cost?
  • How many weeks do they run?
  • Where do you pick up?
  • Can you hold a share if you are unable to pick up?
  • What variety do they have?
  • Do they have options beyond produce (ex: eggs, milk, bread, flowers and meats)?
There are a few options that combine produce from your local farms and bring it to your door. Door to Door Organics is growing in popularity here in the midwest and on the east coast. Bountiful Baskets is also growing and has more sites throughout the nation. And Full Circle is in the west and pacific northwest.
If you are just getting started with introducing new foods and produce to your diet, this is a great way to be forced to explore new tastes. I would highly recommend it. My family has done a CSA for two years and we have really enjoyed it. This year I have decided to not join. Mostly because I’m tripling the size of my garden now that I have more confidence. And I really want to experiment with a variety of farms by going to the market each week. Not to mention getting my oldest son involved in picking out what foods we’ll be enjoying each week!

April Week Two Action Item:

Each week we will try to give you some simple action steps to put this journey into practice. It is important that you start this journey by understanding yourself, your goals and perhaps your obstacles.
  1. Whether or not you choose to join,  research a CSA in your area and the pros and cons of signing up.
  2. Comment below or on our Facebook Fan Page about what you found and what you are going to do!

April Get Real:

Please take a moment to thank our guest authors by clicking over to their sites and/or liking them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Sponsor:  Once A Month Mom

Guest Author: Rachel of Hounds in the Kitchen

 


7 Responses to “Get Real: Buying Local and CSA’s”

  1. We joined a CSA (www.greatcountryfarms.com) for the first time this year, and we’ve already been out to the farm once for their Easter Egg Hunt and Marshmallow Harvest. So much fun! The next event is an asparagus event in conjunction with Mother’s Day. Can’t wait for my produce deliveries to start!

  2. Yvonne says:

    We joined a CSA a few years ago and decided to do it again this year. Being in NY state, our growing season is a bit shorter than some other areas,but we will still get squash, apples, cabbage and other hearty produce in the late fall. We also went in on a half cow share with our extended family. So excited to be getting local, grass fed beef this fall!!

  3. Koleen says:

    We are starting a CSA this year! We are very excited and are going year round in Michigan! We are building hoophouses so that things like spinach, kale, and carrots will be around all winter. It also helps with extending the normal growing season.
    We also joining a meat CSA. Local grass fed beef, pork & poultry. Yum!!

  4. Jen V. says:

    We are joining a CSA for the first time this year. This particular local farm is doing great work with businesses in the area to offer delivery to offices to make their produce more accessible. They also offer an option to trade produce with other CSA participants in case you want more of a particular crop or don’t like something for the week.

    We butcher our own meat, and have always grown a garden or purchased produce from farmer’s markets, but it will be so nice to have the convenience of the CSA this year as well!

  5. [...] is a staple meal in our house during the summer.  Using fresh veggies from our garden and CSA, and throwing in a little chicken, I am able to whip up a healthy and filling meal in no time. [...]

  6. Jessica Hull says:

    The link you have listed to search is not working.

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