By Melissa Schlenker
There are so many reasons to look forward to the warmer weather. One of my favorites? Farm fresh fruit and vegetables! I love the farmers’ markets so much. Maybe a little too much. When my daughter and I hit the Easton Farmers’ Market on Saturdays during the Summer and Fall, we come home with bags of fruit, vegetables, plants, bread, cheese, and sometimes dessert! And an empty wallet. I go a little overboard at the Farmers’ Market.
This year, for the first time, we are participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It is a system in which people invest in their local farm in return for a share of the produce during the growing season. When I told my sister this, she asked me if that meant we were going to work on the farm. Um, no. I’m going to pick up a box of fresh produce on my way home once a week! Although there may be arrangements out there where lending your labor on the farm is part of the deal, I did not see that in the research that I did.
There are a lot of reasons why I have NOT done a CSA before. The biggest one was cost. I used to think that dropping over $400 for a share was a lot. However, when I look at the math – we are spending $440 for our CSA – and we will get twenty-one weekly boxes. That is roughly $21 per box. I spend waaaaayyyy more than that when I go to the Farmer’s Market.
The second reason was finding a pick-up time and location that was convenient for me. However, I have finally found one that is on my way home (Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon). If you can’t make it there on Friday before 6, you can pick up on the weekend. You can also have someone pick up for you.
One last thing keeping me from taking the plunge was my fear of coming home with a box full of dandelion greens, rhubarb and kale. However, after talking with some friends who have participated in this CSA before, I was assured that the Summer boxes offer a wide variety of produce and include a good amount of the blueberries and strawberries that have made Ward’s famous.
Also on my short list for CSA candidates were these three local favorites:
In the end, my choice came down to pick up time and location. But I encourage you to check them (and others) out. Options are more flexible than ever with half shares, farm stand debit cards, and even flower shares.
My last little piece of advice as I venture into this unchartered CSA territory? Talk to other veggie lovers. Find out what they like and dislike. Chances are you’ll find someone to swap with when you do get those dandelion greens. I already have a taker for the week I bring home too much rhubarb.
If you are thinking of doing a CSA – don’t delay. Most farms have deadlines of mid-April or so.
Question of the Day:
Do you CSA? What’s been your experience?