Raise your hand if you know what a CSA is…….just as I expected, only a few of you know about this concept. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and is a model that allows consumers to purchase fresh, local foods and establish a relationship with the farmer who produces it. It works like this, the consumer purchases a “share” from a farmer for the season and the farmer provides a basket of vegetables each week to the consumer in return. Many farmers also include other items like eggs, meat, cheese, homemade bread, fruit, herbs and flowers.
I have been interested in CSA’s for several years but have not gone so far as to actually purchase a share. I love the idea of eating locally grown produce because we all know that taste and quality of a food product is directly related to it’s freshness. Over the years, as I have harvested my pitifully small number of tomatoes or cut a few leaves of basil, I often thought of how nice it would be to have a bountiful amount of fresh vegetables available.
Yes, I know I can have this experience by supporting the local farmers market each week and I do frequent them often during the produce season. However, another reason to join a CSA is to be exposed to new vegetables that you would typically not select on your own. It is an opportunity to broaden your culinary experience.
One of my daughter’s friends from college joined a food co-op a few years ago to overcome her pickiness about food and eat healthier. You can read about her experience starting with bagel bites as a staple in her diet to learning to cook and enjoy the likes of okra and squash at Lizziecookingforone.blogspot.com. She said the experience was “challenging, but it really changes the way you cook and think about food.”
I have decided this is the year to act and not just talk about it. I have done some research and have purchased a share from Red Ridge Farms out of Odessa, Missouri. Starting in mid-April and for the next 25 or so weeks, I will be receiving a weekly basket of fresh, locally grown produce. There were several CSA’s in the area to choose from, but I selected Red Ridge Farm when I discovered one the proprietors, Farmer Ami, has a Farm Blog. I love the idea of reading about life on the farm that grows what I will be eating each week. Her blog not only provides recipes to use on the vegetables they grow, but offers interesting information about the farming process. Yesterday she was talking about how she is dealing with bugs, from a sustainable, chemical free farming perspective. Visit Ami’s Farm blog at redridgefarms.wordpress.com.
Last year’s “shareholders” from Red Ridge Farms received the following as part of their weekly basket; lettuce, radishes, spinach, arugula with microgreens, eggs, wild garlic, pickles from last summer’s cucumbers, spring onions, carrots, potatoes, kale, asparagus, pea shoots, honey, pac choi, cabbage, eggplant, strawberries, basil, dill, chives, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini, jam, beets, rhubarb, tomatoes, squash, jalapenos, green peppers, green beans, sweet corn, cantaloupe, edamame and pumpkins. Wow! I cannot wait to get started!!!
I hope to take a field trip in the next couple of weeks to meet Ami and see the farm first hand. Here’s to a spring, summer and fall of fresh taste and new cooking experiences!