In my last post on my CSA, I talked about why I wanted to join a CSA – now here’s the what and how!
I’m pleased to announce I’ve signed up for a CSA with Growing Washington. In a way, they’re not a pure CSA as described on the first page, but I think they’ll be a really great place to get started. Growing Washington is a non-profit organization whose mission is:
Growing Washington strives to continuously enrich and improve the lives of all Washingtonians by empowering communities to work together toward mutual goals and by strengthening the sense of connectedness between individuals and between diverse groups. Growing Washington focuses on four program areas to fulfill this mission: Sustainable Agriculture Program, Environmental and Cultural Preservation Program, Economic and Societal Health Program, and Doing the Right Thing. From the Growing Washington Website.
One of the things they do is organize a CSA which connects people with a network of local, chemical free farmers in the area, rather than a single farm. This strengthens our community, provides greater variety for the boxes, and allows them to offer more scaleable options. With the Growing Washington CSA, we were able to choose from 4 different sizes designed to feed between 1-6 with between 6-15 different types of items each week. We also had the choice between the full (25-week) and regular (20-week) season AND the choice of style. We chose the “Farmer’s Choice” box, which is more like a traditional CSA in that the boxes are filled by the farmer’s based on what is most in season and wonderful that week, but we could have chosen the “Local Choice” box and actually chosen all our items each week – although still limited by seasonality. We decided to start with the smallest Farmer’s Choice box as a way to test out the CSA with a more modest investment. We figure next year we can go bigger and/or switch the type of choice we have depending on how this year goes.
Based on all of this, I’d had my eye on the CSA for quite some time. But there was not a nearby drop-off place, and our condo doesn’t have a good place we could use to volunteer to be a drop-off. Imagine my excitement to log onto their website this spring and find that a store just around the block from us is now going to be a drop-site AND we’ll be able to pick up our box between 12-9 every week.
One of my regular features throughout the year will be the CSA un-boxing on our Thursday pick-up day and then a round-up of ways we used (or failed to use!) the veggies that week.
I’m so excited to share that this year, I’ll be trying out a CSA – community supported agriculture. Basically, people buy shares at the beginning of the year and commit to a specific level of support for the year, and in return the farm provides weekly boxes of produce, straight from the farm. They’re a bit of a risk for the consumer because if the farm has a bad year, there won’t be as much yield for the investment of joining. But CSA’s are important for supporting local farmers. Farming is a very unpredictable venture and a CSA allows the farm to have a base on which to plan for the year.
CSAs can be set up in all sorts of ways. Sometimes there’s just one size of share (it’s typically HUGE) and sometimes it focuses just on vegetables. Others may have fruit or flower shares, or even eggs! You might pick up your food on the farm and even have the chance to volunteer, or you might pick up the food at a neighborhood drop site on your specific day of the week. They vary widely in price, and on whether their food is organic or not. Most people find that CSA’s also invite creativity because you will probably get vegetables in your box which you haven’t bought before, and you’ll want to use them up rather than let them go bad!
Basically, CSA’s are awesome. And I’ve been wanting to try one for ages because it seems just right for a person like me:
- I love to cook, and I like to be pushed (a little) out of my comfort zone to learn new things.
- I love vegetables. Especially now that I’m eating mostly pescatarian, I’m eating a LOT of veggies.
- I believe in eating local, sustainable, and ethical food as much as possible. A CSA allows you to know the farm(s) your farms are coming from and be familiar with their values and whether or not yours align. Local food has traveled less meaning it’s fresher and has a lower impact on the environment, while investing in your own community’s economy.
So – with all these reasons to join a CSA, why haven’t I until now? CSA’s can be a little intimidating, as well as a big commitment. I first decided I wanted to join a CSA back in early 2009, during graduate school. But my problem was that it was outside my grad school budget, provided WAY more produce than I (a single, omnivorous woman living alone) could reasonably eat, and required a time commitment of months I wasn’t sure I could muster. Then, I graduated, and got a job that provided a meal plan. So then I REALLY couldn’t justify the cost of spending a bunch of additional money on food. But mostly, because I needed the time to muster up the courage to put my money where my mouth is!
That’s why, after FOUR YEARS of waiting, I am so excited to finally be trying a CSA! My next post will outline how I chose my CSA and what was involved in signing up.