I know it’s tax season and we all have a lot on our financial plates, but now is the time to start thinking about summer veggies straight from the farm and paying upfront for a summer of wellness. If you enjoyed my blog series about our first CSA last summer, now is the time to research your options and hopefully sign up!
CSA is short for Community Supported Agriculture. What that means is that you pay a farmer ahead of time (literally “seed money”) for produce directly coming from one farm. By joining up with a farm, you share in the bounty or the famine, depending on weather conditions.
I highly recommend our CSA from last year: Angelic Organics. It is the largest CSA in the Chicagoland area so I think you can feel pretty good about their dependability. I felt very connected to the farm as a CSA member. We even drove all the way to Rockford and made goat milk ice cream with our son (it was one of the best things we did all summer). Last summer’s veggies were amazing. Unfortunately, because we are moving this summer, I will not be to share the in Angelic Organic’s harvest (I’m really bummed). I just can’t commit to one drop-off location for the entire season (we could be moving rather far away). So now I’m shopping for a new CSA (we’re looking at Tomato Mountain). Here’s how you can join the CSA revolution:
1) Search localharvest.org to see research local farms that offer CSA.
2) Consider how much produce your family eats. Our CSA was a bushel every other week, which was an enormous quantity of produce for our family of two adults and one child. I will continue with a similar size this year. Evaluate how many family members you have and how much time you will have over the summer to prepare food.
3) Be ready for an adventure because joining up with a CSA is different than shopping at the farmer’s market. Last summer we ate more lettuce than ever before — more than I would have ever purchased on my own. I encountered radishes, kohlrabi, and curious squashes that were totally new to me. It was quite the culinary challenge — but so fun. Make sure you have a lot of space in the fridge, too!
4) Evaluate the drop-off locations for the CSA and your summer vacation schedule. Don’t make the mistake we made and forget your CSA box — it happened a couple times during the extended season. Such a loss of veggie love.
5) Want a part-time CSA? Even half-way into the summer, there will be some CSAs still accepting members. So don’t despair if you end up deciding you want to give it a try in a few months.