CSA: Community Supported Agriculture

You may have seen the acronym CSA floating around and wondered what it is.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  With CSA, people help to support a local farm by paying a subscription  price to receive weekly produce. 

CSA produce

I decided to try out participating in CSA this summer.  I paid for 20 weeks of locally grown, organic produce up front.  The farm is in Maryland, which is a small state, but it’s not particularly close to me.  However, they have numerous places where they drop off CSA produce and one happens to be at a residence in my town.  I have had four weeks of produce now, and I’ve been very happy with it.  We’ve gotten an assortment that varies each week.  The above picture shows just a portion of what I got one week.  Over the past four weeks, I received these items (and probably a couple I’m forgetting), but not all of them every week:

  • lettuces
  • spring onions
  • collard greens
  • kholrabi
  • snow peas
  • rhubarb
  • zucchini
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • strawberries
  • cherries
  • beet greens
  • beets
  • mint
  • parsley

A couple of the items we have not liked, such as collard greens.  I know they are good for you, we just don’t care for them.  However, we tried kohlrabi for the first time and liked it.  Last week I cooked beets for the first time, which I posted about on Monday, and the family liked them too.

One thing we’ve had lots of is lettuce, particularly green and red leaf lettuce.  For several weeks we’ve had build-your-own salad for dinner on Thursday (the day I pick up my produce).  Another item I’ve gotten each week is spring onions.  We eat onions a lot so those have been great. 

This is the first year I have had a CSA subscription, and it’s an experiment.  I am happy to help support a local farm, and I like the ease of picking up my produce from a convenient place.  The farmer’s markets in my area are not as convenient, and I am often disappointed in how much produce is actually there.  On the other hand, with CSA I have no choice about what produce I am given.  I am hoping that there will be very little that we don’t eat and not too much overlap with my own garden.  I’m also limited to picking up the produce on Thursday, and it makes shopping earlier in the week difficult when I don’t know what I will be getting.  So far, though, I am happy with it, and I look forward to seeing what will be in the box each week.

How About You
Do you have a CSA subscription or have you had one in the past?  What do you think about it?

To learn more about CSA and to search for one in your area, visit Local Harvest.




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Comments

  1. This is my first year participating in a CSA as well, and we've been thrilled! I love being given produce that I may normally pass up at the market or in the store–it's always an adventure to try to figure out new ways to use it (the build-your-own salad night is such a fun idea!). The only downside with ours is that it's a nearly 2-mile walk to go pick it up and then again to lug it all back. Once I get home with it, it's worth it though.

    P.S. A tip if you aren't liking collards on their own: If you simmer them nice and long into a soup, they just sort of become lost in all the other ingredients. That way you don't have to "confront" them, but they still get used up and you get the nutritional benefits. :)

  2. Dorian says:

    I've had a CSA subscription for years – I love it! recently we swapped to a CSA that also raises their own chickens, pigs and cattle, so we can get our meat there as well – lovely.

    On the collard greens – what we started doing is slicing them veery finely into strips and adding them to stir fries and soups, or blending into liquid (we have a vitamix) and adding them to soups/stews/smoothies. They're great for you, just sometimes hard to love ;)

    ~M

  3. Aubree Cherie says:

    This is my first year participating in a CSA too! I actually couldn't have begun to afford one all by myself, so another student and I are splitting it. It's fantastic! We've gotten a lot of leafy greens, green onions, beets, and broccoli so far. Lately its been cherries too! The surprise each week is part of the fun; love it :)

    ~Aubree Cherie

  4. Brenna Kater, the Oceanskater says:

    I have a CSA this year. I blogged about it :)I have a CSA this year. I blogged about it :)

  5. Celeste Jean says:

    i am looking forward to participating in CSA one day. it was too much money to put up front for us to afford this year, :( but we are growing our own little garden. :)

  6. Jolly Green Mommy says:

    I am part of something similar to a CSA, and have learned to cook with new ingredients through it.

    I too am not a big collard greens fan, but have found two ways to cook them that we like them. My husband liked them when I sauteed them adding a good amount of veggie broth to draw out the bitterness. Look for Sunny Anderson's recipe on FoodNetwork.com. The 2nd way, is not make chips. I ripped the leaves down into bite size pieces and then coated them in olive oil and a little salt. I then laid them out on a cookie sheet and baked them at 350 for 7.5 minutes (don't ask, just found it worked best) and they're not bitter at all. In fact, I like them quite a bit this way! (Just in case you get them again and are trying to figure out what to do with them.) You can also do this with Kale and other greens.

  7. Tasty Eats At Home says:

    This is my first year participating in a CSA too! The lady that organizes it will actually send out an email asking if there's anything that we don't care for, so she won't be giving us stuff that we don't like. Me, I'm not picky, and I love most any veggie. But I think it's great she gives us that option, because of the overlap situation with my own garden.

  8. This is my second year having a CSA.. I love it but there is a lot of lettuce! We dont eat many salads but I force us to have a couple at least each week.
    I share what Im not going to use with other family members… It works for us!

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