Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I joined a local CSA group this past spring after reading an article in the paper about a farm who offered "shares" of their farm to local consumers. Typically the share consists of a box of fruits and vegetables, but sometimes dependent on the farm, other products (such as eggs, dairy or even fresh cut flowers) may be included. The farm that I purchased a share of delivers my box of produce once a week to a central location during set hours so that I can go and pick it up. The spring season started during the second week of April and runs through mid-July depending on the crops. I purchased a medium share for $250 and each weekly share provides enough for my family of five.

This type of program is advantageous to the farmer because they get the cash up front for the crops they are going to grow and it is great marketing through word of mouth. As for the consumer, in this case my family, we get exposed to a large variety of fresh organic produce some of which we might never have eaten had it not been in our CSA share. The only real risk is if the crops fail which may happen due to heavy rains or drought. Fortunately most farmers plant a large variety of produce so that not all crops are affected.

During the first few weeks I admit that I was a little worried that I might have made a mistake because the a good portion of the produce in my box was not something my family was very happy about eating. Things like beets, collards, arugula, kale, mustard greens and mesculan mix. Unfortunately a lot of the produce from the first couple of weeks went into the trash. I did find that my family would eat arugula pesto and I made several batches of that for the freezer. I also cooked and pureed the beets to use in some future recipes from the Deceptively Delicious cookbook. As for the greens, I knew it was a waste of my time to even put them on the table.

After those first weeks the produce became more familiar and we found our box packed with things like squash, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, beans, potatoes, radishes, beets, turnips, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs. As the season progresses, we find that our box is overflowing each week.

I have had to be very creative in finding ways to introduce my family to some of these vegetables. For instance, mixing turnips in mashed potatoes and cauliflower in macaroni and cheese (another Deceptively Delicious recipe). One week I cooked and pureed beets, cauliflower, and broccoli to freeze for future use. We have tried the veggies roasted and steamed and in casseroles. It's been a learning experience for all of us but I am positive that I will join again in the Fall.