I get a lot of questions about my CSA or ‘Farmshare’ so before I get into recipes, here are a few FAQ about where I get my food.
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you and the other members of your CSA support regional farmers financially and by volunteering. In exchange, the farm supplies a week’s worth of vegetables to each member usually from mid-June to Mid-October. Winter shares are also available but not as bountiful.
Where is your CSA?
My CSA is from Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook, NY. They are a biodynamic farm and their website is http://www.roxburyfarm.com
I pick up my share in White Plains at Full Circle. There is another Westchester drop site in Pleasantville.
What do you get in your CSA share?
Typically, CSAs provide enough vegetables to last the week for a family of 3-4 or about 15-20 lbs. They try to guarantee at least 5-6 different types of veg so you don’t end up with 20lbs of potatoes one week and 15 lbs of lettuce the next. For example, this week I got a bunch of slicing tomatoes, 3 different heads of lettuce, leeks, red onions, jalapenos, red and green carmen peppers, broccoli rabe, a few potatoes, and dill. It changes every week.
Is it expensive?
Considering what I drop in Whole Foods regularly, the CSA produce is DIRT CHEAP. You are getting heirloom, high quality, biodynamic produce for a great price. My share worked out to $27/week. I do supplementary shopping but my grocery bill is considerably smaller without the produce $$$.
Do you know what vegetables are coming?
Because this is a working farm, with weather, droughts, etc you are not guaranteed to know what will come each week. It is fun, a surprise every week! Roxbury Farm does update a newsletter every week with a rough guess about what you will be getting the following week. In the newsletter, they also update you on the ‘state of the farm’ and occasionally call out for help in the fields from CSA members.
How do the vegetables compare?
The vegetables have been so delicious and you can certainly tell a difference between a store bought tomato and a farm fresh tomato. The veg arrives sandy and def needs a wash but the flavor is awesome.
What are the benefits?
Not only are you supporting a small, local business, but you are also feeding yourself and your family the cream of the crop. It is so important to know where your food comes from and to get to know the people who produce it. We have lost touch with our farmers in this country and we are losing touch with the fuel that feeds our bodies. Because the veg are picked fresh every day (and not stored in refrigerated trucks/planes/boats for weeks) they retain higher levels of nutrients, water, texture and flavor. When you save on the energy cost to bring your food to the table, you are doing everyone a favor.
Another great part of doing a farmshare or a CSA is that you get a variety of vegetables every week, some that you have never heard of. It forces you to think outside the box and get creative with recipes. Because of the volume of vegetables, you really have to eat veg for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you want to use it all!
What are the drawbacks of a CSA?
I haven’t found many. For me, it is a fun challenge to use all the veg in a week but I know for others, it gets overwhelming. It forced me to experiment with canning, pickling and preserving, and freezing whole vegetables. Also, you have to pay in one lump sum, you cannot pay $27/ week for example. Roxbury Farm does offer installment plans, where you can pay over 2 or 3 months, which was great.
Where can I find a CSA near me?
This website is a great resource. http://www.localharvest.org/ You can put in your zip code and find organic farms that offer CSAs or farmer’s markets near you.
Are there ‘Fruit CSAs’ and other types?
Yes, some farms offer a fruit share. Roxbury farm also offers meat shares. We got a lamb share (about 17lbs of frozen lamb-different cuts delivered over 3 months) and it has been great. We also got a ‘cowshare’ from a different farm in northern Virginia that was awesome. I would highly recommend getting to know your meat and dairy farmers as well as your vegetable suppliers. The meat is completely different from store bought ‘pink slime’ and it really encourages you to think about how your meat is raised and how you want to use it. I found that doing a cow and lamb share, my meat intake actually decreased because it was a much more thoughtful process. Thinking about what to do with a lamb loin/top roast/etc vs. just running out to the shop to get a protein to make for dinner.
I hope that helped! Please comment below if you have any more questions. On to the recipes!
xo, SW and Sweet P