Is joining a CSA right for you? CSA is not a fit for everyone. I hope what follows helps you think that through. The important thing is to choose what works for your household. There are many ways to support local farms; participating in a CSA is just one important way to do that.
Do you want to get to know a farmer, and a farm, that is near to where you live?
——The relationship between you, the farm, and the farmer is a core part of participating in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. A CSA connects you to where your food grows, and to who is growing it — things you simply cannot know about the food you buy at a retail grocery store.
“I’ve realized how great an undertaking growing food is, and how much havoc things like weather can make, what it can do to the vegetables. Until you come to the farm, you don’t notice these things. Now I do.” — Pam, CSA member for 6 years
How much do you value the taste and quality of the vegetables you eat?
—-Quality here is about more than looks and size! King-sized vegetables may be pumped up with artificial fertilizers, and vegetables without any blemishes may be that way because pesticides have made sure that insects can’t eat them. The taste of fresh vegetables raised in good soil, harvested the same day you pick them up, and handled with care by someone you know is a value beyond a simple price tag — not to mention the health they bring to those eating them.
“When I come to the farm, I feel proud to be a part of Many Forks because so many of the corporate farms are hidden away. There is nothing to hide on the farm.” — Anne, a CSA member for 8 years
Do you need to control what or how much of a given vegetable you receive?
——Participating in a CSA does require a sense of adventure. It’s a creative process! A weekly email to CSA members lets you know what vegetables to expect at that week’s distribution. Quantities vary depending on what has matured, how a crop is doing due to weather and other factors. Different vegetables are available depending on what time of the season it is. When you get home, fresh and beautiful vegetables inspire you to create from what you have from the CSA, to experiment or try a new recipe. Most of the vegetables you receive from the CSA are those you are very familiar with. A few vegetables may be less so – such as (the famous) kohlrabi or celery root – are only available at a couple of the distributions over the course of the entire season.
“I appreciate that my son is more interested in trying the vegetables than if I were to get the same vegetable from the grocery store.” — Wendy, a CSA member for 5 years
“Now, I love scallions for a snack! “ — Eric, son in a CSA household
Are you willing to figure out how to use the CSA vegetables in the best way for your family?
——As the farmer I am here for the long haul, and being a part of the CSA asks you to be a part of sustaining a local farm in your community. Eating this way is not a quick health fix, but if you are willing to integrate the flow of the CSA into your household’s dinner table, it will definitely make a difference in your health. CSA participants who return each season are one of the core sustaining reasons that small farms, like Many Forks, survive.
“I didn’t always succeed, but I learned that I should process the vegetables as soon as possible, like when I got home, so they were easy to use throughout the week – just waiting to be taken out of the fridge and cooked or eaten.” — Susan, a CSA member for 8 years
Are you looking for a bargain in joining a CSA? Is your prime motivation to save money?
Think carefully about this and be honest with yourself.
We do not try to persuade you to participate in the CSA to save money. If you were to purchase all of the vegetables you receive at the CSA distribution from a locally-owned food outlet, locally-grown and organic – YOU WOULD SAVE MONEY WITH THE CSA! But because everyone’s shopping habits – where you purchase fresh produce, what vegetables and in what quantities you purchase them – are naturally different from what you receive at the CSA, a direct comparison is tricky.
Instead, we make other promises:
- We grow our vegetables with sustainable, environmentally responsible practices, care for them with every member in mind and with attention to every plant, all of this yielding food full of health.
- You have the freshest food possible — generally harvested the very same day you receive it! This NEVER happens at a commercial grocery store.
- Since you know the farmer, you know how the food has been grown — what we have put in the soil, how we control insects, where the seeds come from and that they are not genetically modified, for example. You can ask the farmer in person and get straight answers.
- You come onto the land where we grow your food. You can observe the life of the farm, experience the changes through the season, and see the vegetables growing first hand.
- You can have the pleasure of picking some vegetables yourself, and if you have children, they will love doing this! There is something inherently satisfying about gathering food for your family — the food you are then going to take home and prepare and add even more love before you serve it.
- Each household decides how much they want to be involved in the farm. You can just show up and get your vegetables, but you can also participate in gatherings, conversations and workshops for farm members, or come at designated times in addition to distribution day to cut flowers and herbs, or walk the farm trail.
- The other CSA members are a resource for you: in learning how to work with vegetables new to you, giving you new ideas for vegetables you know well, or providing an opportunity to bump into community members you know — and meet new ones!
WE HOPE YOU WILL JOIN US!