Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an easy way to get the freshest local food around while also supporting local farmers. These CSA’s usually involve payment upfront for an allotted amount of time where you will receive weekly farm “shares”. Farm shares are crates of fabulously fresh produce either delivered to your door or offered at pick-up locations. There are options for meat, cheese, egg, or fish too; it all depends on what farm you choose and what you sign up for.
So why join?
You get the freshest food available.
The farmers package together the weekly harvests just in time for your pickup or delivery. Cut out the middle man and shipment from other areas. This is as fresh as it gets unless you have your own garden.
You’re supporting local farmers and helping the earth.
Seriously. If you haven’t drank the kool-aid yet, try watching Cooked or Food Inc. on Netflix. I’m not going to get super preachy about this, but I’m personally not comfortable about how we mass produce food for consumption. It’s not sustainable and helping local farmers is a social political option to remedy this on a personal level.
You get to try new things!
When your groceries are mainly chosen upon what was recently harvested, you don’t pigeonhole yourself into the same things you always eat. You’re forced to try new things and get more creative with your cooking. Kale is beyond it’s prime in popularity at this point, but I remember getting a bunch of it in my Illinois CSA in 2011 thinking, “what the heck am I going to do with all of this?” Many kale chips and soups proceeded and kale is a staple in the house now. I probably would have never thought to serve grilled bass on a kale salad.
It’s economical if you can afford to pay up front
I’m not going to lie to you and say it isn’t a big check up front. But if you can make it work, it’s usually cheaper than what you would spend on usual grocery outings. For example, Coonamessett is $435 for 18 weeks of produce. That comes out to roughly 24 dollars a week. When I go to Whole Foods, or even the local grocery store, I spend a lot more than 24 dollars a week on vegetables.
You can stick it to the man.
I’m tired of going to the local grocery store. I know my situation isn’t the same as everyone’s, but where I live my only option is to go to Stop n Shop unless I’m ready for a 30-40 minute drive. I’ve had situations where I’ve bought shellfish at Stop n Shop, only to realize that the fish is dead by the time I’ve gotten home. I’ve gotten strawberries that only lasted for 2 days. I don’t want to support stores that aren’t providing high quality food anymore.
So how do you choose a program that works for you?
There are CSAs everywhere. You might not know a local farm is close, but it’s worth a check on Local Harvest. The biggest factor in choosing is usually coordinating the pick-up. Some will deliver, but most will not. Many have multiple pickup locations as well.
I chose Coonamessett because it was a logical location for either my boyfriend or I to drive to each week after work. There were some other ones that were actually closer to where we live, but Coonamessett also has a variety of ways to be interactive with the farm. You can pick your own berries or crops, choose some fresh eggs, or check out the goats, alpacas, ducks, or variety of other animals on the site. Not to mention there are dwarf goats. The only thing cuter is a baby dwarf goat, and I got to see one on my visit this week!
I like that going to the farm for the CSA pick-up each week means I get to have some choices as well. Which herbs would I like to have this week? Would I prefer radishes or turnips? It’s just the right amount of granola for me. I also like that they are connected with other farms, which means there are meat and cheese options. I was a little intimidated by the amount of meat that comes in a monthly CSA, so I got the three month option. Every other month I receive 10lb+ of assorted meats.
I’m super excited to eat my way through these fresh harvests from Coonamessett each week. I plan on blogging how I get through them below: