Your local CSA: 3 reasons to join

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About Emily

Emily is a contributor at Simple Kids and is an Early Childhood Teacher, wife, and mother. She spends her time teaching, learning Spanish, reading, and relaxing with her sweet little family. At The Pilot's Wife, Emily blogs about flying, building their hangar-home, mommy-hacks, faith, and wrangling a 130 lb dog.

This spring our family decided to try something we have never done, or even heard of before. We joined a local CSA.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, that means you have a local farm that is supported by community members who purchase a “share.”  Typically, shares are picked up weekly and contain a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Why should you join?

We have had such a positive experience with our CSA.  Here are my top three reasons you should look into joining one in your area.

growing plants

1. You get fresh, locally-grown, organic produce.

Of course, this is the main benefit to joining a CSA.  You can feel good about improving your local economy while enjoying the freshest possible produce.

We have found the fruits, vegetables, eggs, and honey to be the highest quality we’ve ever tasted with a minimal increase in price.

Keep in mind that many small farms use organic growing practices, but can’t afford to become USDA certified. This means you get organic produce without the big price tag.

Our particular farm raises chickens for eggs and uses the litter as a source of nitrogen instead of commercial fertilizer.  They also use rooting hogs to clear fields, and even use draft horses and a plow to break the ground in some fields.

Each farm will have its own growing practices, so be sure to ask your farmers. They will be happy to share their passion for farming and growing great food with you.

2. It forces you out of your cooking comfort zone.

Each week we pick up a basket full of goodies, some of which were virtually unknown to me before we joined.

I might skip over them in the grocery store, but since I’ve already purchased them in advance, I’ll find some way to use them. It has really expanded our menu.

I have to add, our particular farm has been wonderful about including recipes with each week’s share, kick starting our meal ideas.

3.  It is a hands-on lesson for your children about the origin of their food.

toddler visits farm

Even though our son is still just a toddler, I want him to begin to understand that food doesn’t come from a box in the grocery store.

I can think of no better place for him to learn than on the very farm where his food is grown.  The family that runs our CSA farm was thrilled to let Miles, our 18 month old, explore the rows of strawberries on a recent visit.

Here are a few tips, if you’re serious about getting started with a CSA in your area:

  • Check an online resource like Local Harvest to find a farm near you.
  • Start looking now for next spring.  There is often a waiting list, and you can get discounts by signing up early.
  • Many farms offer a fall share with their CSA — ask around!
  • Consider splitting a share with another family to cut costs and pick up responsibilities.

Are you in a CSA? What’s your favorite benefit to being part of one?

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Comments

  1. One of the top reasons my family is in a CSA (a fruit only one, as we grow our own veggies and have chickens for eggs), is that I get the best choice produce without waiting in farmer’s market lines. Fruit, especially, sells out quickly at our farmer’s market. With the CSA I have a guaranteed share and don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to ensure my part of the harvest.
    Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen)´s latest post: 2010 Summer of Food Events

    • avatar
      Emily @ The Pilot's Wife says:

      A fruit only CSA sounds great! We are big fruit eaters and our CSA is only a small portion of fruit. I love how quick and easy picking up our share is vs fighting the crowds!

  2. Thanks for the post. I am a mother of three in rural North Dakota and from a 5th generation farming family. Overall support of all farmers and the entire agricultural industry is important. I would also encourage to learn why conventional family farms are needed to continue to advance agriculture in order to feed the world and booming global population.
    Katie´s latest post: Girls Day

  3. I wanted to join a CSA, but there’s a long waiting list around here. I guess I’ll stick to the farmer’s market for now and try again next year.

    http://www.gomestic.com/Rural-Living/A-Growing-Trend-Community-Supported-Agriculture.163197
    Becky´s latest post: Get a Deal a Day

  4. I can’t wait to join our next year! All the local ones filled in December (AND I started looking in Jan), so I’ll have to stick to Farmer’s Markets this time around. I do have a rule, though, at our small farmer’s market… I always try anything they are selling! I’ve discovered a love for all types of squash, greens, and cabbage this way :)
    Kendra@www.thebutterflynest.blogspot.com´s latest post: The Bad News Is

  5. I am just about to join a new CSA in my area. They’ll be delivering a box to my home every two weeks. I am really looking forward to being part of one again.
    Hannah´s latest post: the tuesday list

  6. excellent reasons for joining. i couldn’t agree more. we’ve been participating in a CSA for the past 3 years and love it!
    prasti´s latest post: independence day weekend

  7. We love our CSA. We split a share with another family by alternating who picks up the bag each week. That way, I spend one week stretching our menu to accomodate the produce and the next week I can cook our “old favorites.” This has been a crucial way for us to get adjusted to the CSA program.

    We also love that our CSA is run by friends (former co-workers) that live 20 minutes from town and they’re willing to host a field trip for our playgroup each summer!
    Alissa´s latest post: Beach Babies

  8. Sooooo true! We joined one for the first time this year and I love it. It’s like a free field trip for the Crazies every single week. You’re so right about cooking outside of your comfort zone too…it’s really made me think about how I’m forming my meals!!!

  9. We have a food co-op rather than CSA, but it’s very similar. What I love most is being able to drive 2 minutes to my neighbor to pick up food every other Tuesday, as opposed to trucking almost 20 minutes to the HFS.

    I also save a few bucks, and the greens are SO much fresher! I am hoping, though, to be able to quit the co-op in a year or two b/c we will be growing most of our own produce. ;)
    Emily´s latest post: Healthy Summer Dessert Recipes

  10. Just a quick note that while some CSAs use organic practices (even if they aren’t certified), not all of them do. It’s best to ask if you’re not sure.
    Wendy´s latest post: Spicy Pickled Carrots

  11. I love love LOVE our CSA. We’ve been members for a year this summer. The food is phenomenal and it does get me out of my comfort zone of cooking. Sometimes we get a different variety of a “normal” produce, something we don’t see in the store. It’s so exciting.

  12. We joined a CSA farm this year for the first time. We’ve received our first harvest bin, and are looking forward to our first work day this weekend. Another reason for us to join is to learn about gardening. We are planning to grow more vegetables ourselves, but it will a gradual process. Being involved in CSA should help us learn and implement effective growing strategies.

  13. I honestly did not know such a thing existed! I’ve been searching for option for organic produce for the last few months. Thank you so much for this! I found three farms right in this area, one even offers a modified CSA by sending you weekly menus of what’s available. And that one delivers right to your home!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
    Ivy´s latest post: More Like Falling In Love

  14. I’m convinced and what great timing! I just posted about how I menu plan using our weekly csa veggies. I linked back to this post. Our family has gained so much more than good veggies from being members for the last 6 years.

    http://fimby.tougas.net/vegan-csa-menu-planning

  15. I totally agree with getting out of the meal routine! Our CSA is Bell Organic (http://bellorganic.com/) and I love the pressure to come up with some way to use the what’s-it-called that came in our box for that week. :)
    Laura W.´s latest post: Hellooooooo new catalog-

  16. Thanks for the link to find a local CSA!
    Suzanne´s latest post: homepage

  17. You’re welcome!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Learning to eat a Variety of Seasonal Produce, CSA: Community Supported Agriculture and Your Local CSA: 3 Reasons to Join. Do you have a csa post to recommend? Please leave a link in [...]

  2. [...] July 11, 2010 by a simple twist of faith Okay, I will be the first to admit I did not know what CSA stood for…Community Supported Agriculture.  In CSA, you buy a share from a local farmer [...]

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