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Guest Post: Why I Love My Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Hello friends!

I’m currently flying north towards Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving, and since many of you will be doing lots of cooking this week, I thought it would be great timing to share a guest post about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

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CSAs are a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Basically, a farmer offers “shares” for purchase to the public, which usually consist of a weekly (or bi-weekly) box of vegetables, fruit, and sometimes dairy/eggs/meat products, depending on the farm. It’s a great way to support local farmers, get delicious, fresh produce, and encourage yourself to experiment with vegetables and fruit you might not normally purchase! Click here to locate a CSA near you.

Without further adieu — enjoy the guest post!

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Why I Love My CSA
A guest post by Gary Hansen

Fall is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest, and that means our beautiful sunny weekend was followed by a cold, wet, blustery Monday. It’s the kind of day that makes you want to come home from work to some bone-warming soup and hot apple cider. And, that is exactly what I did. I made a wonderful autumn minestrone (click here for the recipe) almost exclusively using ingredients that were grown within 100 miles of where we live — winter squash, celery, potatoes, corn, onions, garlic — all from our local CSA farm.

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My wife and I are coming to the end of our second summer with our farm, and we love it. Each week, our farmers truck up to the Seattle area and leave boxes of fresh veggies at various pick-up locations around town. In the summertime, they leave fresh flowers along with the vegetables. As fall hits, the flowers are replaced with carving pumpkins and jars of honey.

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If you don’t already participate in a CSA, I would encourage you to find one in your area. They can be a convenient and affordable way to eat locally-grown, seasonal, organic foods. One of the great things about our weekly deliveries has been the opportunity to try new things. Having to resort to Google for help (what exactly is garlic flower, how should I prepare tatsoi? etc.) used to be a weekly occurrence. Now we’re getting to be obscure vegetable connoisseurs, thanks to the helpful guidance and time-tested recipes our wonderful farmers include in their newsletters.

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Participating in a CSA also saves us a lot of time that we would normally spend shopping for groceries. Every Tuesday a week’s worth of vegetables is waiting for us. What’s more, these vegetables have a more positive environmental impact because they’re chemical-free and weren’t shipped from Chile, or even California. This encourages us to eat what’s seasonal, which in turn allows us to be more in tune with the natural rhythms the year.

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Finally, I love the community that we get from our CSA. There’s a connection that we have with others as we run into each other at the pick-up site. Our food comes from the same soil. We all have a personal connection with the people who plant and harvest what we eat. Our CSA has changed the way we shop, the way we cook, and — if there’s any merit behind the saying, “You are what you eat” — who we are.

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About the author:
When he’s not playing soccer or cooking something savory in his beloved cast iron skillet, Gary Hansen writes articles on career training topics for Guide to Career Education. To read more from Gary, check out his blog:
Pounding the Pavement.

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Thanks, Gary! I really want to join a CSA (especially after touring a CSA farm while on the Stonyfield Barnstorming Tour) but haven’t gotten my act together yet — reading this is the motivation I need to start looking for one near me!

Do you belong to a CSA? Do you like it? Love it? Is it worth the money?

Comments

  1. 1

    There are some fine CSAs in the Philadelphia region but, to date, I’ve opted to purchase my fresh produce at our local farmers’ markets. There are a number of them within walking distance from our apartment and I enjoy chatting with the farmers and market regulars. But if it were difficult to get to farmers’ markets, I’d definitely go with a CSA. Fresh local produce is delicious!

  2. 2

    Thank you so much for the CSA link. I linked to it and found an Organic farm about 4 miles from where I live. I had no idea. I will be paying them a visit. That is why I love your blog so much Anne. It is so enjoyable because you are so personable. When we reply, it seems like we are talking to a friend. I appreciate that.
    HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND YOU TOO MATT.

  3. 3

    I’ve had a CSA with a local farm for about two years and I adore it. I’m actually sad in the winter when the season ends; it’s a highlight of our week—we pick ours up at the farmer’s market near our house and we love chatting with the people who work there. It’s also fun to just get a bag every week and be surprised and challenged to use some of the items, several of which have been completely new to us. Our town is lucky to have a lot of them available, including meat and egg CSAs. Totally recommend.

  4. 4

    Interesting post! I’ll definitely look into a CSA!

  5. 5

    I really want to, but my parents would never help me finish all the veggies! I tend to cook for myself as they aren’t as into the healthy foods I make. If I can find a CSA meant for one, I totally will!

  6. 6

    I became a CSA member for the first time this year. Our CSA season here in Wisconsin is only 20 weeks long and I miss my weekly boxes of vegetables! It was such a great experience that I started a blog to help other CSA members find vegetable recipes.

    In response to, “it it worth the money?,” I would say absolutely! We paid $470 for a 2-person share for 20 weeks, so roughly $23/week and the quality of the produce was amazing. I used localharvest.org to find a CSA program with a good reputation and am so happy with HighCross Farm.

  7. 7

    I belong to an organic CSA share in philly that runs from June-November, they ROCK. I even visited the farm at their fall appreciation dinner which was even cooler. I love knowing exactly where my food is coming from!

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    Thanks for the link! I found a CSA near me that is accepting new members, and I’m really excited to try it out! Now, I just have to figure out a pick up time (I have a weird work schedule and I don’t get off work until late)… Have a happy Thanksgiving, and I look forward to seeing your pics and posts when you get back! :)

  9. 9

    Neat idea, Anne. Thanks for sharing it with us. Best for a wonderful Thanksgiving -

  10. 10

    anne, in chapel hill i freaking love bella bean – they include a bunch of different farms and deliver straight to your door! you get to choose what is in your box each week, and the quality is top notch.

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