Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ask the Internet: CSA Reviews, Ideas, and Experiences?

This week’s question comes from Canadian reader Kathleen. She asks:

Q: I am in the process of signing up for my first CSA share and was struck by the lack of discussions about CSAs on the internet - except for farm websites, and CSA networks for farmers. I'm new to the whole eat-local scene, not mega-rich by any stretch of the imagination, and am wondering what kind of risk I am taking investing in one farm for all my veg for this coming season.

Generally, I'm just wondering if you had any thoughts, ideas, reviews, cautionary tales, etc., on community supported agriculture.

A: Thanks for writing, Kathleen! Though I’ve never joined a CSA, our own Leigh was part of one in 2008. That summer, she created a lot of her recipes based on its bounty, and talks a little about her first trip here.

Beyond that, sweet readers, this one is all you. Have you ever signed up for a CSA? How did it go? Would you do it again? What did you do with all that kale? The comment section is wide open.

Want to ask the interweb a question? Post one in the comment section, or write to Cheaphealthygood@gmail.com. Then, tune in next Tuesday for an answer/several answers from the good people of the World Wide Net.

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36 comments:

Annie Jones said...

We were in a CSA in 2008 and loved it. I enjoy cooking and appreciated the challenge of working with what was in our CSA bags each week rather than making veggie decisions on my own. The produce was wonderful and well worth the price.

For us, the only drawback was that our pickup location was 20 miles away and only scheduled for a 2-hour window each week. It was sometimes difficult to work into our schedule and almost always a trip for no other reason.

Our solution in 2009 was to plant our own garden.

Sonja said...

In my experience, the first year that we joined a CSA we were overwhelmed with veggies and if we did the math, it was not an "economical" situation. However...the second (and third and fourth) years have more than made up for my incompetence of the first year. LOL!!

I am now finding myself looking forward to getting all those bunches of spring greens!!

I say go for it, but don't judge the experience/value on the first year alone.

Kacie said...

I'm doing a CSA for the first time this year, too. I have a friend who did the same one last year and it came highly recommended. I think that's important -- find someone who you can speak with about it!

I will not be using my CSA for all my produce, though, and it might be unreasonable to expect a CSA to be able to cover all that, especially depending on where you live.

I will supplement our produce at farmers markets and regular grocers. We always need bananas in our house, after all!

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

I've been a member of a CSA for three years now, and I love it.

It helps me cook much more seasonally. Once the growing season kicks in here in Northeastern Ohio, we get a flood of vegetables. Starting with asparagus and salad greens, moving on to green beans, then the tomatoes and peppers...oh, I can't wait.

I also like that it's forced me to expand my vegetable cooking horizons. As an example, I love boiled edamame at sushi restaurants, but never thought to make it myself. And it's so easy! Put the pods in boiling, salted water, cook until just tender, drain, and sprinkle with some salt. My kids will even eat it!
Bok Choy, Swiss Chard and Fennel have become regulars at my table, and I don't think that would have happened if I wasn't forced to try them.

I split the share with a friend of mine; she gets one week, I get the other, and we get enough vegetables in that one share that it will usually last me through the next week.

And that winds up being the only downside. Or, "the kale problem." When you're getting seasonal vegetables, they come in waves. Sometimes, those waves are huge. What do you do when you're overloaded with something? In some cases (say, tomatillos - I got seven pounds in one week last year), you can can, preserve, or freeze the results (I had frozen tomatillo salsa through December).

As for kale...I make kale and white beans, I use it as greens in chicken soup, and I braise it with garlic, and...well...kale (and turnips) wind up as compost, if I can't figure out what to do with them. I'm so ashamed.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner

De Nueva said...

Yay Local Food!! I have had many friends who have done CSA's and love them. I work directly next to a farmers market, so do most of my shopping there rather then a CSA. The thing about a CSA is they do vary quite a bit from farm to farm. The fun thing about CSA's is that there will often be vegetables that show up in your share that you have no clue what to do with, perhaps that you may never have even heard of. Lots of CSA's include recipes or the internet comes in handy for this. But it's a fun adventure and a good motivator to learn new recipes. The downside is I have had friends who haven't had as much variety as they would have liked and up with waaay to much of one thing one week and not as much as needed the next.

Perhaps start out with a half share just to experiment? All in all though, a great way to support local farmers and the environment!

Anonymous said...

We are entering our third season in a CSA. The first year we had a good yield - too much in fact for us to effectively manage. This past year we had significantly less, partly due to weather, and in my opinion, partly due to the farmer not adequately adapting to circumstances. E.g., when he tells us one week that deer have destroyed a crop and "it never happened before" and then the same things happen a month later, that's a problem for me.

This will be our final year if we get too low a yield and I hear too many excuses.

Lauren said...

This is my second year doing a CSA. I loved it so much last year I couldn't NOT do it--in fact, I was extremely sad when the season ended and lamented it all winter, which made me realize that this winter I have to sign up for a frozen produce CSA offered in my area.

Anyway, I loved it because I liked getting fresh, local produce each week and because I often got stuff I'd either never had or didn't buy often, so I really had to try new things and learn. And some things we got so much of that I really expanded my repertoire in cooking with them. Plus our CSA (Needle Lane Farm in Michigan) was great about sending out farm updates, recipes, tips and information about the package we were getting. I often wrote about it on my blog at http://haveforkwilleat.com/

I can't wait til May comes!

Holly said...

If you're feeling uncertain about the proposition, maybe try splitting a share with someone for the first year. That way you're not as financially committed to the arrangement, and have someone to share the kale with.

Or, in some cities, you can get something like Boston Organics (Boston) or Planet Organics (San Fran), which are not CSAs, but they're sort of a nice way to ease yourself into the world of mystery box cooking.

I'm so scatter-brained that I love the CSA boxes. Otherwise, I would never decide what to make for dinner. :)

Anonymous said...

Check http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ as a resource.

Also, as a farmer, I can tell you that the "risk" is giving up control over your choices. You'll get whatever your farmer provides, so it's not like shopping at a grocery store or farmers market. You will likely get veggies that will challenge the way you cook, but it is a great way to get fresh food.

Amber said...

In 2009, my husband and I signed up for a CSA. This one delivered to our house, which was astoundingly convenient - even though I had to come into work late once a week to be there for the delivery.

I loved the challenge of working with whatever came to the house and creating meal plans around the veggies.

My only complaint is that we ended up getting a lot of some things we didn't want so much (3-4+ peaches every week for 2 months!) and not so much of other things (we only got maybe 5 tomatoes total all summer).

So I suggest, if you're choosing between different CSAs, that you go on and call up the farm and ask what they have a lot of and what they don't have much of. When we finally got around to visiting the farm where our CSA came from, we realized they had an *enormous* peach orchard and a pretty small tomato area. We could easily have obtained this information with a quick phone call.

I'll also say that it's probably not cost-effective to invest in a CSA but it is supporting local agriculture, helping the farm make ends meet and forcing you to eat better all summer. Well worth it, if you ask me!

Good luck - it's a fun food adventure!

Julie said...

I also joined a CSA for the first time this year, and am equally underwhelmed by the amount of online discussions about it. I actually thought I would have a tough time finding one, living in Maine and all, but fortunately, there are tons of farms here.

I can't wait for June!

P.S. I wrote about my experience finding a CSA here:
http://lifewithoutexcuses.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/40-live-close-to-the-earth/

Anna N said...

I love my CSA share and would recommend it -- I've had one for three years, and each year I've gotten more than enough to feed two people who eat a lot of vegetables, even last year when the fields were hit by some late blight. The only vegetables we buy are extra onions and garlic, and things we want for fun (eg, tomatillos, since our farmer doesn't grow them).

In my experience, with friends who've had CSAs from different farms, it really depends on the farm, so I'd recommend talking to people who've had your particular CSA in previous years to get an idea of how much you'll get and whether there's good variety or 4 heads of lettuce every week. Here are some typical shares from my CSA, Golden Earthworm Farm.

Personally, it takes a bit of work for me to keep up with my CSA without letting vegetables go bad (I hate it when that happens), and it's key to have a good recipe resource for when I get multiple eggplants for three weeks in a row and I'm sick of all my usual eggplant recipes, or when I'm trying to think of a recipe to use up garlic scapes and spinach and kohlrabi at the same time. So here are some recipes, organized by ingredient!

Kaki said...

The thing about a CSA is that you must be committed to changing the way you eat. You can't plan meals weeks in advance. You have to be flexible in your meal planning and try out new recipes to give yourself variety with the pounds of spinach/basil/tomatoes/insert your CSA's bumper crop here. Buy a cookbook that has lots of recipes for greens. Those were the hardest for us to learn to use (and now we buy them all winter!) Taking a preservation class doesn't hurt either. I've yet to begin canning, but I freeze pesto and basil butter and am always looking for new ways to preserve that don't involve a pressure cooker. (I'm still scared of those. But this summer I will fight that fear!)

That said I would never go back. I love my CSA. We're lucky enough to be working members, meaning we pay a reduced rate in exchange for hours spent on the farm planting, weeding, etc. In addition to the great veggies we've also tapped into an amazing community. If you can find a CSA that is local to you it's a great way to meet like minded people and become involved in making your world a better, kinder, greener place.

Also be a aware that if your CSA suffers storm damage, the amount of food you will receive will be effected. Last year we had hail damage early in the season and most of our spring spinach was lost. Those weeks our take-home was leaner than usual. CSAs are a way to support local farms and sustainable agriculture -- you're literally buying a share of the farm. So you will get your share of loss along with your share of abundance.

Marcia said...

MikeV, two words: kale chips (roasted kale). Like chips. but with kale. Crispy and delicious. I used to have a few good kale recipes. But now? Kale chips. Works for collards too.

Turnips: roasted, or braised in apple juice and butter.

CSA - we are in the beginning of our 10th year in our CSA. Boy how time flies. First few years, we probably threw out about 75% of the veggies because we didn't know what to do with them. Now I'm an old pro, but I still don't really know what to do with some things (like fava leaves).

All CSAs are different, so I would ask around and get recommendations. Show up on pick up day and ask other members.

Even our CSA has had good/bad years/seasons. "The year of the lettuce" (3-4 heads per week). "The year of the carrots" (one bunch every week for 38 weeks". "The summer of peaches" (12 each week for a month). "The spring of clementines" (2 lbs a week from Feb through June).

We've had a lot of rain recently, so yields were light those weeks, but they are making up for it now.

I love it. Tastes SO much better than conventional produce. Still doesn't fulfill our entire week's produce.

Kaki said...

I forgot to mention that one of the great things about my CSA is that we do pick-ups in person at the farm. It's as much a social hour as a shopping expedition and they often have chefs on-site with samples of recipes for us to try. By picking up in person we can leave things we don't want on the surplus table OR pick up extras of things we'll use a lot of of that someone else has surplused. (I've left kohlrabi and I always take extra radishes. I LOVE radishes.) Our farm also acts a pick-up-point for shares from other farms/suppliers (eggs, milk, mushrooms, berries, fruit, juice, even buffalo from the Lakota reservation!), so you can pick up all your locally produced food in one place.

I know delivery is convenient, but for me it would take away half the fun of my experience.

Birgit said...

I've been in a CSA for the past 3 years ... there are just 2 of us, so I purchase a 1/2 share (might be good to start with that if your farm offers it). I will echo that you'll sometimes go "what am I going to do with THAT" ... but I whip out my favorite cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/Asparagus-Zucchini-Cooking-Farm-Fresh-Seasonal/dp/0972121781) and find something.

Our local CSA tries to price things to be a bit cheaper than if you purchased it all at the Farmer's Market. Overall, for me, it's a good deal for fresh-picked certified organic produce.

It's important to support local farmers, which is why we sign up. A bad year can wipe a small farmer out, and the CSA helps them to balance the risk a bit.

This year, our garden is so big we're not getting the veggies from the CSA, but I get a dozen eggs each week from them, and fresh goats milk (egg and milk share). Ours also offers a flower share.

I say go for it!

Lindsay said...

We joined our first CSA last summer in Washington state. The farm had a really great year (so I was told by long time members) and there were often more vegetables than we could eat. One member that I became friends with said she had the same problem the first year, but does fine now. Go in willing to try new vegetables and you'll really enjoy the experience, IMO.

One recipe book that helped us get through some of the less common vegetables was "From Asparagus to Zucchini." (available on Amazon.com and .ca)

Wendy (The Local Cook) said...

I wrote a free ebook about whether a CSA is right for you, and how to choose one. You can download it when you subscribe to my newsletter at http://thelocalcook.com/subscribe/ (you can unsubscribe after you download it, you won't hurt my feelings :-)

I think they are great but you do need to go into it with your eyes open.

mrsboo said...

While I wholeheartedly support the idea, for us it works out better just to go to the Farmer's Market. Our first and last CSA was a small farm that promised big and had a GREAT website, but the weekly reality was pretty meager: a big bunch of "greens" (including thistles), a head of garlic, and a handful of whatever else was growing -- all for $350 dollars for the season (May-October). Definitely do your homework and get recommendations if you can!

ScienceandtheCity said...

I have been in a CSA for two years and I have already signed up for my third. This year and the previous one I am/was signed up with Roxbury Farm in NY. It has been AWESOME.

You will really like it if you cook most of your meals at home and you don't mind eating veggies and trying new things. It was a lot of veggies for me and my SO, but we managed it. You should split it with at least one other person, since it's too much stuff for one person to eat. If you are worried about variety, my advice is to try to find a bigger farm (since they usually have room for more variety) and look online for reviews of any particular CSA.

The internet is full of awesome seasonal recipes and ideas for produce you're not super familiar with or when you're stumped for what to make. The veggies are not usually as pretty as the grocery store ones, but they are seriously WAY tastier - I never knew lettuce had that much flavor!

And as for the cost - it comes out to about $20/week, which is about how much I spend on produce anyway, and this way it's all local and organic. The only things I buy at the grocery store during CSA season are staples like rice, oil, flour, etc., and stuff that doesn't grow here, like avocados. I also spend less money on meat since I eat so many veggies instead.

In short, HIGHLY recommended.

Kurt said...

I will be starting a blog next month specifically for the purpose of CSA preservation and management of the share. I too am starting my first one and found that the lack of info is astounding. If you are interested please email me and I will keep you posted on my progress.

espring said...

Don't forget, if you are overwhelmed with a certain vegetable, do what gardeners do: preserve it! Freezing is easy and cheap. Pickling is easy, too, especially lactofermenting, which works for cucumbers, cabbage, turnips, radishes, and more (just add salt water).

Jennifer said...

My family has had a csa share for 3 years now, going on our 4th. Two years we had a fabulous one in KY where we got a "surprise" box every week. Here in NH the trend seems to be more of a credit style csa where you shop from a menu with wholesale prices. The surprise box is fun for learning to cook new vegetables and getting creative with abundance. One year we overflowed with bok choy. The next year it was eggplant. The credit style is better at getting what you want, avoiding what you don't, and learning to buy enough veggies each week.

I have the book "From Asparagus to Zucchini" put out by the Madison Area CSA Coalition. You can get it on Amazon. Recipes are organized by vegetable. It's a fantastic book.

A good CSA will provide recipes and storage tips with your basket. And be sure to check and see if they have recipe archives on the website. Look over your basket when you get it and take note of what will spoil first. Prep anything that can be eaten raw right then.

If you're doing a credit-style, be sure to do the math and see how much you need to spend each week to keep up. We had a huge balance left over last year and it took a lot of creativity to use it up. If all else fails, winter squash stores well.

Be sure to have at least one freezable zucchini recipe. It also freezes well either sliced or shredded. Chard ribs and those from other greens roast up nicely with some olive oil and sea salt. Really, pretty much anything roasts up nicely with olive oil and sea salt. Any cooking green can be used in pesto and frozen if you leave out the parm. You can stir-fry salad greens with oil and garlic. Kohlrabi is best eaten raw with dressing. Green tomatoes make a great pie, treat them like apples but cook them in a bit of water for 5 minutes first. And whole, cored tomatoes can be frozen as is. Skins will peel right off when they thaw.

Melissa T. G. said...

There's no replacement for a personal recommendation, but I did use internet feedback to make my decision on which CSA to join (I believe it was a thread on chowhound). We are also Roxbury Farm members and are incredibly happy with them and the relationship to the farm. It helps that the farmers are very experienced (so the year-to-year challenges don't catch them completely off-guard, even in a season as crazy as last year's). Problems like bugs and farmer's who aren't great at managing weather problems can ruin a season. Experienced farmers who invest time in good communication with their shareholders are key. Those things are easy to find out online and by email. If you don't know anyone in the CSA, call the farmer and ask to be put in touch with a current member. The farmers should be friendly enough to facilitate this, otherwise you probably don't want to work with them anyway.

Joining a CSA is a leap of faith and you have to be prepared and excited to take that leap. It will mean having to "think seasonally" instead of with your palate alone, be creative with cooking even if you're not a master chef, and be willing to look positively at the inevitable challenge of eating what your local land actually has to offer from week to week. It's an incredibly learning experience and can be an incredible eating experience. It also puts you in a much richer and more complex relationship with farming than you have when buying from the farmer's market--it is a form of economic activism that goes way beyond opting out of supermarket produce. With that in mind, and with a supportive community around you (the farmers and the other shareholders), you will meet the challenges of the season with a sense of adventure and fun. This is why it can be important to learn a little about the community you're joining. Read the farmer's blogs or newsletters and meet some shareholders.

Personally, I think that if you live somewhere for more than a couple of years, it makes sense to seek out that kind of a rooted relationship with a local food source unless you're planning to grow your own veggies.

Chris said...

I hate to be the only negative Nelly here, but my husband and I joined a local CSA last year with mixed results. It's one thing to understand the concept of the CSA, it's another to have to face down 3 lbs of cucumbers when you don't have time to make pickles that week. When our entire CSA shipment one week was radishes (which let's face it, is a salad garnish) I knew it was time to quit.

Don't feel bad for me though, I find plenty of inspiration going to my local farmer's market every week. They have great seasonal and local foods and I get to choose what/how much I take home. No more radishes for me!

NancyEH said...

We have been part of two different CSAs, The first was the more typical "you'll take what we give you." The second (and current) is much more accommodating. In our second year, they asked what specifically we wanted and, even though they didn't have much of a crop, they grew basil because I asked them to. Nice!

They tell us - via their website - what's available, we tell them how much we want of anything and that's what we get. Eggs and potted plants can be part of the deal since they run a small greenhouse, too.

They do full and half-shares and deliver if that works for everyone. Check them out at: http://www.stokdijkfarm.com/ (not updated for this year).

Linds said...

I joined a CSA last year (in Victor, Idaho). It was a great farm-to-table experience. I loved knowing exactly where my food came from and how it had been grown. I learned to cook new things and appreciate a greater diversity of vegetables and mushrooms. I acquired a love of fennel. I have to say, if you haven't ever had fresh garlic (before the skin gets papery and dry), you are missing out. The only downside is that it was so much food, and a lot of it was pretty labor-intensive to cook or preserve. I cook, and I don't mind the time in the kitchen. But harvest time is also back-to-school time, and that can be busy for many families. My husband cooks too, but his culinary vein runs along the familiar instead of the adventurous. So we shared some of our food, but some of our fresh produce went to waste, and that is my only regret. I would do it again in a minute and recommend it to anyone who likes vegetables, cooking, and is interested in getting the most mutrient-rich, fresh food available.

Linds said...

. . . also, the weather worked out well enough that the farm added an extra week. One thing that was great about the CSA I joined was the newsletters; they described the progress of the crops and had recipes for all the vegetables in the week's share.

dyan f. said...

I love the idea of a CSA, but as a single woman with a full-time job, I found that it was a challenge to keep up with it. That element of finding creative recipes for ingredients you may not be familiar with was a lot of fun, but when I'd have a week where I was working a lot and didn't have the time for that, I felt guilty having that produce go to waste. It also got pricey having to pay for the CSA, and then supplementing it with farmers market produce for things that I didn't get. If you have the time and the money, I say go for it, otherwise, find another way that works for you to support local agriculture.

Mme. Blah said...

I was in a CSA last year (Fair Shares, LOVE THEM). It was great, but they do things a bit differently than a normal single-farm CSA. They contracted with a bunch of farmers and local artisan food producers so each week we had cheese, meat, eggs, preserves/maple syrup/salsas/pickles, butter, veg, fruit and bread or pasta, and they had several pick-up points throughout the city, which made it convenient.

It definitely broadened my veg. horizons - sunchokes, for example! Things I didn't like or couldn't finish I either froze or took in to my office & gave away. For us, it was a fairly good deal. I moved to a different state so I can't use them again this year, but I wish that more "shared agriculture/production" CSA's like them existed.

Gotta Garden said...

Since this one is about gardening, I'll come out to play...

Even though I live in an agricultural state, unfortunately, the pickings are slim where I live. There's only one CSA nearby (about 30 mins) and I joined it a few years ago with great enthusiasm.

Unfortunately, I found it to be a disheartening experience. First, I echo all those that say find out about the farmer or farmers before you leap in. Ask questions about what is going to be offered and how much, at a minimum is a share (one tomato??). How experienced are the farmers, what are they growing and can you visit the farms? Find out, for instance, if the farmer grows asparagus, how often is it expected to be provided (one week, two or more).

In my case, the pickup for the produce was just down the street from the local farmers' market. I would often see offerings from the CSA farmers at the farmers' market that were much better than what they provided to the CSA. It felt, to me, like we were often getting what was left over vs first choice (after all, we had prepaid...).

I found I was spending at the farmers' market what I usually spent as the CSA offerings were quite often pathetic. Spring was the best for the CSA, as the lettuces were great and plentiful. After that, it was all downhill, in my opinion.

Many things appeared to have been grown by someone with zero experience in farming/gardening. I had bought a full share (the long season) and I just eventually gave up on it. Traffic became much worse in the summer (something I hadn't realized/counted on) and my 30 min commute could become an hour plus...and they don't wait for you. Once, I was was 10 minutes late due to extreme traffic and it was all packed up and gone.

From what I read, my experience is unusual...as one of the reasons I was excited to join was all the great things I heard about CSAs. I wouldn't do it again (I hate to admit my husband was right...he told me not to do it, but I did it anyway...ha). Although my space for veggies is small, I grow garlic, lettuce, peas, tomatoes and various herbs (not all at the same time...lol)...and am much happier with what I produce.

I recognize that not everyone is able to garden or even wants to garden. Check it out first, though, before you commit. Listen to what people who belong say. I remember one person commenting when our share was pretty terrible (not worth my drive/gas, frankly) that they belonged because it made them feel good. Whatever.

The one I belonged to has probably improved (one would hope) since my time.

If you belong to one of the many wonderful ones, I envy you. If you're considering joining one, at least you'll go into it with your eyes open.

I wish you well and hope it turns out to be an amazing experience.

Lisa (newRDcook) said...

I just joined a CSA this past winter and I love it. I have learned so much about seasonal produce - how to prepare, nutrition, how to grow... it's truly a learning experience for those who really have an interest in food. Sometimes it can be challenging to use all the items(I have a difficult time consuming all the milk) but if you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, CSAs are a great way to expand your culinary horizons. I've been blogging about my experiences:
http://coldcerealandtoast.wordpress.com
I actually just signed up for a summer share with all organic produce. Can't wait for June!

Anonymous said...

I have participated with various CSA's the past eight years and I have to say it has been a learning experience! I have been exposed to vegetables that I have heard of but never seen or eaten before, and many more that I just never tried because they are not available in the produce section of the supermarkets around here. Fortunately, my boxes of produce came with recipes for these rare finds and I have really expanded my cooking repertoire.

One tip I'd like to share: If you have too many vegetables to eat before they spoil, make what the French call "potage"--a thick blended soup. I would put onions, chopped potatoes, greens, bell peppers, peas,asparagus, broccoli, etc. (whatever you have) in a pot with water, vegetable broth or chicken broth to cover, let simmer for a few hours, cool slightly and puree in a blender in batches. This freezes very well and makes a good light dinner with cheese toast. AND, all my children love it!

Jen said...

We've been doing a CSA for a few years now, and LOVE it. We love the farm we get ours from. My husband started working for them on the weekends, helping them at the market, and doing some computer work for them... they are becoming family to us. Becoming close with the farm and their work has also allowed us to become immersed in this whole food world - something we've always wanted, but didn't know the way in. I am constantly amazed and so thankful for the resources at our disposal, and the people we've met.

It's a commitment for sure - it seems like a lot of money to pay up front, and you'll have an unknown box of vegetables coming your way that you'll have to find uses for. But financially, we've found it is a steal, and many farms offer work shares, or multiple installments to pay the full amount, or other options. And the mystery box forces you to learn new things, and eat more vegetables - which can only be a good thing.

shris said...

Hi.

We joined a CSA in 2009, and we also planted a garden. It seems we got our veg in the ground before the farm did, and so our veg came in slightly earlier than theirs. The farm is very close by, which is convenient for pickup, but it means the same blights and bugs affected both farm and garden. :) Last year was a bad year for squash and tomatoes.

I liked the seasonal thing. We continued to buy from our farm even after the CSA ended, on a week-by-week basis. We also told them what kinds of veg we like and would like more of than last year, so we had an opportunity to affect what happens this year. We have already signed up again with the same farm.

We didn't get that much kale last year--I like kale, have several recipes and methods that work well for it. We got more collards and chard than kale. Collards are OK, but chard is more 'earthy' (read: tastes like earth) than our family prefers.

Last year we had a half share, which was slightly less than we actually needed. This year they're changing the share size, and so we're going to have a full share this year. Our CSA also has a deal with a local dairy farm--they provide cheese, yogurt, eggs, and a few other things a la carte..

Anyway, been very happy with it, gonna do it again. Recommend it to anyone to try and see how they like it.

Alice said...

I almost at the end of my first year with a CSA, and I'm rather dissapointed. The farmer listed 84 different items for the year, and so far I have recieved less than half of them. I also felt short changed because I have a half bushel instead of a whole one, so I didn't get melons, raspberries, peas, or other yummy items.

Organic farming is all well and good, but when I find cut worms and some weird, gray fuzzy things on my brocolli, yuck.

I think I may just stick to my local grocery stores produce. This way I can buy exactly what I want and as much as I want.