Welcome! I am a mom to two wonderful kids, a lovely retired greyhound, and a wife to a great husband. Needless to say, there are a lot of daily messes to clean up around our house. Daily Messes is my blog to share ideas on things to do with your kids, snack and meal ideas, crafts, and holiday fun. I hope you find something to enjoy!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

We like to support local businesses and farmers whenever we can. It helps keep both jobs and money local. We started out by using an organic food delivery service which used local produce when it was available. Our local grocery stores often offers locally grown produce in the summer as well.
Delivery Service
We also began going to local farmers markets. (To find one near you, try this link.) The farmers markets are a blast. You never know what you are going to get; there are several near us and each one is different. One has a wood fired portable pizza oven, while another has organic snow cones. They all have the typical lettuces and other seasonal items. Occasionally we even see puppies for sale! One of my favorites is a local bakery that travels to several of the farmers markets. The bakery uses local ingredients and has the best breads.

Last year we tried a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. There are many farms across the country that offer you a share in the farm for a set fee. We picked a farm that used natural, pesticide free practices. We paid a yearly fee of $425 and each week we picked up our "share" of the crop(s). Overall, it was a good experience. We were exposed to new foods that we probably would not have tried before, such as Swiss Chard and garlic scapes. The boys got to meet a "real farmer" and see that their food doesn't magically show up on the grocery store shelves.

There were quite a few negatives too. We live in the Midwest and the typical harvest time is spring to early fall. Last year, we had an early hot streak and a long dry summer with only a few patches of rain. It really effected the crops. There were a several crops that died before they could be harvested or were really slow to grow. There were a couple weeks where pick-ups were cancelled due to the low amount of crops. Even in my own garden I had problems with the early heat and little rain. The family that runs the farm also had a death in the family. The husband had been fighting cancer for years, but the family did not tell the CSA members until a few weeks into the season. He lost his battle with cancer halfway through the season. Towards the end of August, the family sent out an email stating that there would be no more scheduled pick-ups due to the lack of rain and unreliable harvests. You could still come on your own during certain hours and harvest what was available. At the end of the growing season, the family decided not to continue the CSA after many years and focus instead on their retail side (organic feed, etc.)

Even though it cost a fair amount of money, I think it was a good experience. We got to help support a local farm and had the opportunity to try new foods and to eat foods grown without pesticides. The boys also got to learn about where their food comes from. However, entering into a CSA has some risks. The weather effects the crops and how much or little crops there are. We chose a bad year to venture into the CSA. There was not enough vegetables to sustain our family each week and we ended up buying additional vegetables at the grocery store and at farmers markets.

I kept a food record of what we received this year from the CSA:
  • 5/23/12   1 lb. radish, 10-12 garlic scapes, 12-15 Swiss Chard, 10 green onions, 1 lb. lettuce.
  • 5/30/12   1 lb. lettuce, 1 lb. radish, some lambs quarters, handful bok choy, 12-15 Swiss Chard, 10 green onions, 1 dozen eggs. (Sorry! I forgot to get a picture.)
  • 6/6/12   5 garlic scapes, 10 green onions, 1 dozen eggs, 2 lbs. lettuce.
  • 6/13/12  1 dozen eggs, 12 Swiss Chard, 10-12 green onions, 2 lbs. lettuce, carrots.
  • 6/20/12  No pick up.
  • 6/28/12  5 garlic, 6 Swiss Chard, 1 dozen eggs, 3 lbs. red potatoes, 1 large onion, 1 lb. carrots.
  • 7/5/12    3 garlic, 1 small cabbage, 10 Swiss Chard, 2 quarts potatoes.
  • 7/11/12  1 small cabbage, 3 lb. potatoes, small onions.
  • 7/18/12   No pick up.
  • 7/25/12   1 cabbage, 1 lb. onions, 3 garlic, 5 lb. potatoes, handful lambs quarters, 1 dozen eggs, 1 pattypan squash.
  • 8/8/12     1/2 lb. Swiss Chard, 1 tomato, 1 eggplant, 1 pattypan squash, 1 cabbage, 1 squash, 2 broccoli, potatoes.
  • 8/16/12   Handful Swiss Chard, 6 corn, 3 lb. Yukon potatoes, 3 pickling cucumbers, 3 tomatoes, 3 garlic.
  • 8/22/12   9 Swiss Chard stems, 4 tomatoes, 6 peppers (either sweet banana or hot jalapeno), 1 medium (or 2 small) eggplant, 1 pattypan squash, 2 slicing cucumbers, 2 pickling cucumbers.
  • 9/20/12   We went to the farm to do one last harvest. This time we picked our own. We got several tomatoes, 2 small purple cabbage, several peppers, and 3 heads of lettuce.

CSA information Wiki
Land Stewardship Project, find a CSA
Local Harvest, info on CSA, find one near you

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