This year we joined a CSA for the first time. For anyone who isn’t familiar (like me up until a few months ago!) that stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s a really awesome way to support your local farmers and get weekly shipments of farm fresh goodness at incredibly reasonable prices. Basically, you pay up front for the season and receive weekly shipments of whatever is being harvested at that time. There are obvious benefits to the consumer, but this system also helps protect local farmers. They aren’t selling to retail stores who have the option of rejecting their harvest and are better protected in the event of weather related shortages or other farm mishaps.
In our case, we joined the Grant Farms CSA here in Colorado. They’re a bit unique because they’re actually a conglomerate of 20+ farms working together. Because it’s a larger system of farms, they’re able to offer a huge variety of products. Members have the option to commit to shares of veggies, mushrooms, herbs, fruits, cheeses, yoghurt, tempeh, tofu, and coffee. They even have this really cool All-In Kitchen share, and it’s exactly what you’d expect – a combination of all of the above. Think Blue Apron without the specific recipes to accompany.
I suppose at this point you’re wondering what the catch is or why more people aren’t doing this. In the interest of transparency, I guess there are some things to keep in mind:
Your food won’t be as well traveled and worldly as it had been before. Instead of traveling halfway around the world in an ethylene filled truck, it spent its entire life about an hour down the road. Here in Colorado, we’d call that a native.
You may not want to post pictures of each and every item on Instagram. Sometimes things from the farm are a funny size or shape. And they definitely haven’t been coated in wax and artfully arranged in a precarious pyramid display.
You may get some things you weren’t expecting in your box. The beets are frequently coated in a thick layer of dirt, and sometimes inchworms, spiders, or beetles post up in the greens.
If you’re able to dig deep within yourself and find a way to look past those things, what you get is local, seasonal produce grown by people who care about the earth and use sustainable and organic farming practices for a very affordable price.
So let’s rewind to late summer when this all started. Neither Adam nor I had heard of a CSA at this point. We had friends from upstate New York who were visiting for the weekend and happened to mention that CSAs are a common thing in their area and how much they’ve enjoyed their various memberships. They were even able to get breads! I was intrigued but didn’t give it much further thought. As fate would have it, an opportunity to join a CSA basically fell into our laps during the upcoming weeks.
Grant Farms has a sales coordinator who was reaching out to coworking spaces. The thought process being that coworking spaces are frequently occupied by the same progressive types that might be interested in a CSA. As the manager of a small coworking space, I was able to work with her and get our space approved as a corporate pickup location. Within a matter of weeks, I had gone from having no knowledge of this magical CSA thing to having farm fresh produce dropped off at my place of employment. The world works in nutritious ways sometimes.
At the time, we were a household of three. We opted to ease into the CSA and just start with the large veggie share. Perhaps reading the description would have been a good plan. Turns out this option is intended to feed about six people.
Keep in mind that this whole pile cost us about $35…
The following weeks and months were and continue to be filled with adventures in how to use so many veggies each week. We’ve been washing, peeling, chopping, frying, dicing, juicing, sautéing, frying, blanching, freezing, pickling, frying, fermenting, and frying like crazy people! But more on that to come…