I first heard about CSA’s in 2004 while pregnant with my first child. I decided to participate the following year after I had my babe, summer 2005. At that time I didn’t find my experience with the particular farmer’s goods to be that great. I also drove across town in the middle of traffic hour in the dead of summer with no air conditioning in order to pick up my goods, another not so good experience. I became pregnant again that winter and we had our bathroom remodeled the following spring and I’ve mostly not thought too much about getting involved again with a CSA partially because of my negative experience and partially because I have been consumed with 3 babes in 3 years and more than one renovation in our home and in our life. But this year I decided to participate.
One of the reasons I chose to participate in a CSA versus buying my vegetables and fruit at the grocery store is that I wanted to be able to supplement my garden, canning the abundance, but also I want to support local farmers. However what actually has been happening as of late, is that I have had the opportunity to donate a lot of my goods to others in need- this has truly been exciting and I’m grateful to be able to do this. As a result I may put off canning for the year and instead continue to give a way a lot of the excess and then just freeze some for my family to last us through the winter, I am not sure yet.
I have been getting my vegetables from the farmer for almost 1 month now and I am really happy so far with my goods. My fruit CSA started last weekend and I brought home 5 quarts of strawberries with that share! I wish now I would have taken pictures. It was glorious to see so many strawberries and to be able to eat them throughout the week.
I’ve been getting a lot greens, radishes, turnips and some shelling peas from the veggie CSA. Yummy additions like Stinging Nettle, arugula flowers, Tatsoi, and Scapes have been added bonuses. I am working on taking pictures of my goods right after I pick them up, perhaps I will start this tomorrow. I know there are more people venturing into CSA shares this year but I also know there are others who are not on board quite yet. Hopefully me documenting my experience and sharing what I get this season will help you in making your decision whether or not to participate in a local CSA.
One of the concerns I had initially with committing to a CSA was the cost. I paid $650 for my vegetable share back in January. At first that seemed staggering to me but after I sat down and worked it out on paper I began to realize that the cost was comparable and worth it. The CSA provides vegetables for me from the end of May until November. So roughly that is over 30 weeks of vegetables and some fruits (and a 1/2 dozen of eggs every week.) $650 divided by 30 is about $22 a week. Personally that is a good price for my family and I. We know where the vegetables come from, how they’re grown and we can actually visit the farm and see what’s going on. We can talk to the farmer if we need to she is always a phone call away. Can you say that about store bought veggies?
My fruit CSA cost around $420 for a family of 4, from mid June through late October-4 and a half months. I chose a large share since I wanted to can a lot of the yield. The weekly cost ends up being around $93 a week for a large amount of fruit to feed a family of 4.
One of the issues I had mentioned I had with the first CSA I participated in was that I had to drive across town at traffic hour, 16 miles via freeway, to retrieve my goods. With the CSA’s this year I made sure that my pick up location was not a headache for me. This seemingly minor detail is very important in the end. The growing season is around 6 months, do you want to drive across town weekly to pick up your veggies and fruit? I made my pickup location the Clintonville Farmers Market which is about 2 miles from my house, easy and accessible by foot, bike or car.
I heard from the fruit growers last week while picking up my fruit that there will be cherries this week and more strawberries, I cannot wait…with camera ready for you guys of course!
Now that life is more settled I feel as if I can enjoy the bounty that the farmers have yielded.
Happy Summer, well in two days!