Every spring I wait for the phone call that tells me when the first pickup from our local CSA (community Supported Agriculture) will be. Last night we got the call, farm pick up starts on Tuesday. Now my winter, and my quest for organic veggies at the grocery store, is offically over. There will be a bounty on my table without a hole in my wallet.
Membership to a CSA doesn't appear cheap in the short run. Our membership cost for the season is $1095. There are a couple of things to bear in mind before passing out as a result of that figure.
First of all, there are six of us so we purchase two shares for the whole season (June, July, August, September, October and sometimes the early part of November.) We also purchase an additional share for the fall portion of the growing season (September, October and part of November.) This extra fall share is canned or frozen for the winter months. In fact, I just pulled the last of the frozen pumkin puree out of the freezer this past weekend.
Secondly, throughout the growing season there are opportunities to self pick more labor intensive produce like strawberries, raspberries, tomatillos, beans and cherry tomatoes making our membership dollars go that much farther.
A third point to consider are the "seconds" that you can help yourself to. These are veggies that are getting a little past their prime, a squash with a soft spot, a carrot that looks like an octopus, a melon that a deer has nibbled or an onion that must be cooked for soup today. They are left in bins outside the distribution room on pickup days and members can take whatever they like. I have become an expert at removing the spoiled part and rescuing the rest.
Finally, the positive environmental impact of a CSA can't be overlooked. We get an amazing abundance of pesticide free produce from the end of May until the beginning of November at a fraction of the cost of our local natural food store. The soil, air, water, and wildlife around our CSA gets a reprieve from the toxic farming techniques that have become the norm.
If the term CSA is new to you and you want to learn more, check out the links below
If you'd like to read more about our experiences with our CSA check out this link