The season I get most excited about is CSA season (well, ever since last year, when I participated in a CSA for the first time). Why? Because CSAs are AWESOME.
What exactly IS a CSA, you ask? A CSA, or Community Supported / Shared Agriculture, is essentially an opportunity to invest in your local farmer. You pay them a fixed amount (generally around $500 for a full share that feeds a four-person family) in the early spring, and then throughout the summer (usually around 12 – 16 weeks), the farmer gives you a “share” of whatever they’ve harvested that week.
The thing that really draws me to CSAs is that regardless of what the weather is like or what happens to the crops, the farmer is still getting an income – and that’s very important, since there are so many factors that can affect a harvesting season. Not only are CSAs good for the farmer, they’re also a fantastic deal for YOU, the consumer! If you pay $500 for 12 weeks, that’s $42 per week for a four-person family for veggies (keep reading to see just how MANY veggies).
CSA season here in Manitoba just started in the past couple weeks (it was a bit of a later season), but the haul has already been awesome. Mr Science and I split our full share with the mother dear and father dear, and our half of the share alone this week included the following:
- 1 bag spinach
- 2 garlic scapes (best thing ever. Since last year’s CSA, I’ve been just WAITING for garlic scapes to come in season again. Mmmm.)
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 bag mixed salad greens
- 1 bag mixed greens for stir-frying
- 1 bunch bok choi
- Piles of dill
- 1 bunch radishes (with greens)
- 1 bunch beets (with greens)
- 1 zucchini
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard
And the mother dear and the father dear took home the same amount. Talk about piles of tasty delicious local organic veggies!
Later on in the season, there will be fewer greens and more root veggies. We’re also getting some chickens from our CSA farmer this year, and we’ve signed up to get a dozen eggs every other week. It’s just nice to know where your food comes from, who grew it, and how it’s been grown.
Last year, being my first year trying out a CSA, we just couldn’t keep up with the shares. I didn’t know what to expect and that meant that I wasn’t planning ahead as much, and unfortunately some of the veggies went to waste. So THIS year, Mr Science and I are basing our weekly meal planning around whatever we get in our weekly CSA box. Right now, that means lots of salads, green smoothies, and stir-fries! We’re also planning on preserving some things (and have already started, through blanching and freezing the spinach, and dehydrating the dill).
Have you ever tried a CSA? Do you buy direct from your farmer? What’s your favourite way to preserve your summer bounty? Share in the comments section below!