Food Coops and CSAs are great. They’re an easy way to guarantee LOCAL farm fresh produce. With a CSA get to know the farm, often the farmer. You can visit. It’s like your very own farm, because you actually “own” a piece of it. With coops, you own a store, with maybe a few hundred or a few thousand other members. You get a say in what’s stocked and how the store is run. Plus, by buying in bulk, you save.
So far I’ve participated in two CSAs since moving to Brooklyn. The first was in 2010 during the Yellow Hook CSA’s inaugural year. The produce was very greens heavy, and while we did a half share (every other week) we found a lot of the produce would wilt or spoil before my husband and I could eat it. This year we joined the Tribeca CSA with a different plan. My coworker and I split a share. Rather than each picking up every other week, we go together and split each week’s bounty. The Tribeca is less greens heavy (good) but also a smaller share in general. When we get 3 peppers as part of the produce a week, first it’s a bit hard to divide in two, secondly, even if I got all 3, what do I do with them? I would prefer at least 4-6.
While I love the farm connection (and responsibility) a CSA brings, I don’t know that it’s a good thing for me. The weekly surprise of produce is wonderful, but at the same time not knowing what you’re getting or how much until literally you walk up to the pick up site makes it difficult to plan meals. Plus, I really LIKE going to the greenmarkets, It’s exciting to see fresh produce, see what’s out, who has what. Yes, I actually get up at 8am willingly on Saturdays just so I can go.
So I’m a bit on the fence as to whether I’d join another CSA. That is, until I learned about Winter Sun Farms. This monthly winter CSA freezes peak season produce from local farms during the harvest season, then delivers it to you in part of your CSA share. You get 5 goodies a month for 5 months that could include things like frozen corn, squash, berries, green beans and more. I try to freeze and store some of my own produce for the winter, but having someone else do it for you is pretty fantastic. There are locations all over the city and it’s cheap too (about $25 a month). AND, outside of NYC and the Hudson Valley, there are programs in Philly, Binghamton, Rochester and Ashville, NC. Three time’s a charm, right? I think this CSA might be a winner.
Finally, if I didn’t put in a plug for the Bay Ridge Food Co-op, I’d probably have a lot of angry friends. Currently the co-op operates as a buying club every other week (Wednesdays or Fridays). The buying club is a hybrid between preordering (meats and dairy) and free shopping (veggies, fruit, shelf stable items). Check out the Bay Ridge Food Co-op’s Facebook page for upcoming events and if you can stop by our distribution site at 65th and 6th Avenue in Bay Ridge one day.