Ever since being awarded an internship at the first certified organic restaurant in the United States, and harvesting and eating the produce at the farm that supplied the restaurant, I wanted to become a part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

Today, I’m pleased to say that now that I do, I will provide a weekly update on my CSA deliveries, share delicious recipes and of course include some important nutrient facts.

So let’s get started!!…

The CSA program is a partnership between the farmer and its members.  In return for an annual membership fee the members receive a weekly share of the highest quality organically grown harvest during the local growing season.  Although it seems expensive ($556), the breakdown comes down to approximately 20 dollars a week for the 26 weeks!   I don’t know about you, but I know I spend at least that on my produce.   Some farms, like the one I belong to, allow you to pay in two or three installments, which if you are like me that can help plenty! Some offer milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs meat and seafood.  Our farm offers a fruit share from a local fruit farm.

When members obtain food from local farmers they are directly supporting small family farms in their community as well as receiving the freshest available produce.  It is the idea that members support their farmer by sharing in the inherent risks of agriculture (poor weather, disease, early frost, drought, crop failure etc.) as well as the rewards of the harvest.  The advantage to the farmer is being able to market their produce before their long days begin and receive upfront capital to grow and manage the farm. There is also the conversation between farmer and member which builds community and personal connections around food.

Every Monday night I think about what might be in the box the next day and I know this sounds crazy, but I actually get excited to be surprised by what I might find and what I will make with it!  I drive to a private residence five minutes from my home with my own bag and open the box.  I am always in awe of the amount of fresh, dripping wet, bright green, red, and purple delicious produce that waits for me in the box.  The last few weeks, I have gotten fennel, beets, kohlrabi and assortments of the crunchiest lettuce I have ever tasted!

SO WHATS IN THE BOX?   WHATS THE SURPRISE THIS WEEK?

I don’t know until I pull up to the house sometime after twelve noon (a newsletter gets sent but not until after I leave in the morning). As I enter the garage the boxes are stacked high and I grab the clipboard and sign my name indicating I have taken my share.  I open the closest box.

Yes!  More cucumbers (they were so good last week), and more onions (grilled the cipollini onions last night and they were the sweetest I had ever had) and more zucchini, YUM.  Oh and all new things, green cabbage, Asian eggplant,  bell pepper, green long peppers,  red potatoes and basil.  I wish there was more lettuce and although I have my own basil and eggplant I could always use more.   I carefully remove my goodies and fold the box for reuse and am on my way home to lay it out and take pictures to send to my envious friends and excited family.   Now the washing begins and the question is what am I having for dinner? I know my husband will love those little red potatoes they are his favorite.  My daughter, Aly loves eggplant so I will do something with that as well, maybe eggplant parmesan.  I will also check the newsletter and see their suggestions and recipes. I will have to get creative with that cabbage.

My family has found out they love kohlrabi and Swiss chard and I am so happy to be able to make my Tuscan ribolitta soup with the Tuscan kale.  The way a fresh onion peels with little help and without a knife, and the taste of a carrot that was pulled out of the ground possibly the same day; I don’t think I ever knew what a fresh carrot tasted like.  I was beginning to think I no longer liked carrots!!  It is like we are experiencing these vegetables for the first time.  So what am I making tonight and what am I doing with these?   I am still thinking about it.  I will let you know next time how the week with my fresh goodies went.

Until then, if you are interested in joining a CSA you can go to national web sites like Local Harvest to search for a program near you. I think every week you will be happy to find your very own surprises in your box!  Enjoy!!

Madeline

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