It finally came! While every other blogger I know has been bragging over their CSA bounty for the past couple of weeks, I say silently lamenting my late start date. I’m hoping when I’m still collecting in November the joke will be on them, but somehow I’m not certain. I’m a bit of a CSA hopper. Or junkie. Whatever you want to call it. While I never jumped from relationship to relationship while dating, I find it difficult to commit to a single CSA. There are flaws I haven’t been able to overcome. The day of the week, the pickup time, the lack of communication, then there’s the produce itself. I’m a former member of the Yellow Hook and Tribeca CSAs and while there was nothing wrong with either of them, I never felt a connection. This year I swore would be my last year. If I couldn’t fall in love on the third try, I would need to face the fact that I was not CSA commitment material.
For those of you not familiar with a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, it is a direct partnership between a farm and community of supporters. At the beginning of the year, you purchase a share, almost like stock, in the farm. You pay up front, helping the farm get money when they need it most, at the beginning of the growing season, to pay for things like seeds, fertilizers, equipment and labor. A CSA season generally runs 20-24 weeks during the growing season either weekly or every other week. The farm delivers fresh produce to a community drop off point and it’s split between the shareholders. Produce grows like a bell curve, a little at first, a whole lot in late summer, and then tapers off again in October/November. As a member of a CSA you share in both the risks and rewards of the farm. If the farm has a fantastic growing season, you benefit, however if weather causes the season to be less fruitful, you will end up with less. This mutually supportive relationship between local farmers and community members helps to create economically stable farm operations in which members are assured the highest quality produce. In return, farmers are assured a reliable market for a variety of crops.
So this year I chose the Park Slope CSA that works with Windflower Farm up near Saratoga Springs. The pick up location is 20 minutes away on the train, but also just a few blocks from the Park Slope Food Coop where I do the bulk of my shopping. I figured I could pick up my share, then walk right over to the coop and get whatever I needed to supplement my meal. Not only is the Park Slope CSA a “late bloomer” in terms of pickup dates, but I chose, the even weeks, pushing me one week further from the original start. I needed to calm my excitement and distract myself on Thursday afternoon to make sure I wasn’t the first to arrive at the 4pm start time.
The bounty was to be expected. Heavy with greens–arugula, kale, bok choy, red leaf lettuce–plus some radishes, green onions and more strawberries. I was least happy to receive not just a bunch of cilantro but a cilantro plant. Really? Probably the only herb I dislike with a passion, and now it will be added to our fire escape garden. Oh well. Maybe some chimichurri sauce will make things better.
CSA day is also giant salad day. Greens are a heavy component of the shares and the delicate bunches of lettuce generally perish quickly. So dinner was simple–broiled fish with lemon and greens tossed with olive oil and homemade strawberry vinegar. As for everything else, I think some stir-fry is in order and maybe some strawberry ice cream.
- Veggie Haul: CSA Adventures Episode 1 (grassfedyogi.wordpress.com)
- The Prudent Pantry: Meal Planning for CSA Members (savings.com)
- Hooray for CSA! (alongaruralpath.wordpress.com)
- CSA Week 1 (squarepegfoodfarm.wordpress.com)
- 8 Ways to Love (And Keep On Loving) Your CSA All Summer Long (thekitchn.com)
- Brooklyn Locavore Approved: Brooklyn Commune (bklynlocavore.com)
Great haul from your CSA, I used to belong to one, pick up was 1 block from my house and the produce was amazing, they included fresh vegetables and fruit they vacuum sealed and flash froze, herbs both fresh and dried, fruit, home canned jams and preserves. I loved it, then sadly they stopped, no more and I am still mourning the loss of my CSA. We also didn’t have to work a shift. I love what you have in your CSA box but can’t work so I can’t join, Bummer, I am only about 10 minutes from Park Slope.
We joined the Thursday shift because it was a later distribution, therefore later workshifts, so easier to manage. For the half share you only work 1 shift. 6-8:30pm I think or for the last few weeks because it’s colder, even later and shorter, 7-8:30. So that might make it more manageable. I also wonder if you really can’t work the shift if there might be a way to work it out with a member. See if someone might work your shift for your cut of the produce that week. If I had the time I’d totally go for a deal like that.
The other CSA you’re talking about seems like the winter shares that Sun Farms does http://www.wintersunfarms.com/home.php. I’ve never tried but have considered. Then there’s the CSF (http://villagefishmongernyc.com/) if you’re into fish 🙂
We did the Winter Sun Farms the one year they had it in Philly and then got their stuff in our winter CSA last winter as well. It was nice that it was only once a month but I had a hard time using some of the items since I am not used to cooking with everything frozen. That said, I adored having the broccoli, cauliflower and corn as well as the butternut squash puree. It was also a lot cheaper since it was only 5 pick ups. Most CSA’s in Philly don’t have a work shift which is nice for those of us that are busy.
I freeze corn, green beans, carrots, squash puree and sometimes zucchini for the winter. It’s amazing how much better it tastes than the frozen stuff you buy at the supermarket. I’m not a big fan of frozen stuff either but I’d rather have frozen NJ corn in the winter than “fresh” tasteless coming from who knows where stuff.
Yum strawberry ice cream…. I don’t think I could hold off long enough before eating all of them though.
The secret is to eat a few quarts of strawberries a week. Then one extra one, doesn’t instill ravenous cravings. 🙂