Know what to ask before joining a CSA

by - Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Over the weekend, I got to pick up my first ever community-supported agriculture share at the farmers market. I don't belong to a CSA, but my coworker was going to be out of town and couldn't pick up her box so she offered to let me pick it up instead.

The way her CSA works is that she pays some amount of money in the beginning of the season and each week a local farmer bags her a bunch of his freshest produce. The contents of the box differ each week depending on what's in season, but there's always a good haul.

Like most CSA programs, her money goes directly to the farmer, cutting out the middle man. Her produce also travels a shorter distance and is grown organically, hugely reducing her carbon footprint.

I would love to be part of a CSA program, but after picking up the veggies this weekend, I know it's going to be something that will have to wait until I have a family. I would never be able to eat all the produce by myself in a week. My coworker gets half a share, but check out how much was in the haul:

My bag contained:
Swiss chard
A head of lettuce
Bagged baby greens
Sugar snap peas
Summer Squash

It's been fun trying to figure out what to do with all the food. I gave some back to my coworker because there was no way I could eat it all myself. She says she and her finance make a game out of it every week to see what new recipes they can try.

Things to consider before joining a CSA:

  • Is the cost worth it/realistic for me?
  • Will I be able to eat all the produce and if not, what will I do with leftovers?
  • Do I like to cook and think of new things to do with food?
  • Am I the type of person who can deal with getting random produce each week or do I prefer to hand select what I'm getting?
Local Harvest is a great resource to find more information about CSAs, to find farmers near you and to help determine if a CSA program would work for your lifestyle.

Do you take part in a CSA or have you ever considered it?

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