Wednesday, August 15, 2012
What's a CSA and how do I get one?
I apologize for not sharing. We have been visiting family in preparation for our daughter going off to college. I feel in my heart that even though she will be just 60 minutes away, she won't be the same the next time she steps foot in our home. Until this point, she has been "in the middle" of our foursome, but now she's embarking on fulfilling her own plans and dreams. I am so excited for her, yet selfishly, very sad for me.
Right now, I'm “in the middle” of several projects, none of which I am ready to share. I am working on an Adirondack chair, whose pieces have been in a box in our garage for three years! I’m crocheting baby hats and booties to give to a local organization called “Young Moms.” And – I finally opened my Etsy Shop aptly named, Useful Kreations. It currently features a single item – a set of custom crocheted dish/wash cloths which were featured a few posts ago. Check it out and leave me a comment.
So with all of that in mind…today kids, I’m going to share some information about our CSA or Community Supported Agriculture.
Like any good journalist, I did a little research before giving you the goods on our familiy’s CSA experience. (imagine soft background music here.)
The US Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Library says a CSA is comprised of a bunch of people who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm - sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Share-holders of the CSA pledge or pay in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary and in return, receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season. The added benefit is the satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.
The risks of entering into a contract with the CSA include poor weather and the risk of pests which could lead to a poor harvest and little return on your dollar. But like anything in life – there’s always a risk and with a CSA comes the satisfaction of providing one or several farmers with advance working capital so they can get better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and escape much of the burden of trying to market their own crops.
Our family tried a CSA in the past - not a good experience - but this year a friend told me about the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC).
We decided to give it a try and it is FANTASTIC! We purchased a half share for around $400 and a Fruit Share for $200 and, so far, have gotten more than our money's worth! The CSA delivers to a pre-school about 10 minutes away and every Tuesday since early May, we have had a plethora (love that word) of fresh, organic produce.
In my humble opinion - THE BEST carrots, beets, tomatoes, bazillion types of lettuce, potatoes…on and on. My friend, Michele, says that part of the fun is looking for recipes on how to use the items. She is always right! Bill and I have never, in our almost 25 years of marriage, cooked a beet. Pitiful right? Wrong - we just never knew how to prepare them! They are delicious!
Ok, enough said...here are some photos of this week's bounty. That watermelon reminds me of the ones we used to get for the 4th of July when I was a little kid. It is HUGE!
The LFFC is a nonprofit cooperative of 75 organic farmers in Lancaster County and serves all of Eastern Pennsylvania, New York City, and most of the tri-state area providing fresh, certified organic fruits, vegetables (unless otherwise noted) and other farm fresh products by selling subscriptions (shares) in their CSA program. They support farmers that are looking to make their farms sustainable and local farms that use Integrated Pest Management (I.P.M.) techniques. Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative is owned by the farmers working in cooperation with each other to bring you healthy, quality foods. Check it out at: http://www.lancasterfarmfresh.com.
There are many CSAs and I urge you to think about joining one in your area. Ask around first though, so you know you are joining a reputable organization.