CSAs in Austin?
I'm thinking about joining a CSA, and I was wondering if people who are already members of one here could offer any comments as to vegetable variety and quality offered by the different farms. And I don't want to join one that has any work requirement, as watering my small garden and plants is about all I can muster in the Texas heat unless there's a body of water nearby.
I belong to a CSA run by a farm called Johnson's Backyard Garden. They have no work requirement, and you have the option of getting a box weekly or biweekly. They will also let you do a trial run of two weeks to see if you'd like it or not.
I've been pretty satisfied with the vegetables (and the occasional fruit) so far. For all the organic vegetables I get, I consider it to be a deal compared to getting the same amount of organic veggies from Whole Foods or Central Market. Variety is decent. Since it's the summer, I'm getting ample amounts of squash, cucumber, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and onions, along with some okra, eggplant, carrots, green beans, basil, and beets here and there depending on the week. In the Spring, I was getting a lot of swiss chard and turnips, salad greens, beets, green garlic, asparagus, carrots, and some cabbage. Quality has been good. I've only run across a few veggies in my box that were a little poor looking, but still edible.
The thing with CSAs I've noticed is that if your farm had an exceptionally good year with a certain crop, you'll be getting tons of it for weeks on end. I was ready to pull my hair out over all the swiss chard, dark greens (collards and turnips), and beets I was getting in the Spring. I had two months of swiss chard and I felt bad when I had to let some of it rot. I'm still getting beets in my box.
The fun part about CSAs is coming across vegetables you've never seen before. Kohlrabi, pattypan squash, purple basil, and yellow beets were something I've never tried previously. I've also learned about home canning. I've got two jars of pickled beets in my pantry and I'm going to make cucumber pickles with my excess cucumbers this weekend.
Here's a link to get you started. There are a couple farms in the Austin area.
Thanks verily. Mr. Diva makes minestrone every week to take to work, so some of the chard could go there.
Rene, CSA stands for Community Supported (or sustained) Agriculture. You pay a local farm a fee and they give you a weekly box of vegetables. You get fresh, organic produce that is in season and locally grown. (Did you know that the average supermarket vegetable travels 1500 miles?)
I had a bad experience with the CSA we joined. The boxes got lighter and lighter and it was not a satisfying bang for the buck for us. I much prefer spending $25 a week here instead:
They have a great farmstand on Jollyville on Wednesdays. It's local, all organic, and they are wonderful people.
i have a subscription to the csa from hairston creek farm which has been certified organic forever. last year we did a half-share, which was a box every other week. this year we did a full-plus-share which means we get a box every week, a dozen eggs every other week and a jar of jam, pesto or some other treat on weeks we don't get eggs.
i must admit that it takes a certain mindshift to cook from a box of food that you receive each week, not knowing exactly what will be in it. it's much easier to go to the store or farmers market and buy what sounds yummy or looks good. but once you get in the swing, it's fun and i was raised eating from the garden so enjoy the familiarity of the process. when strange things appear in the box, i start looking through cookbooks and find recipes i probably never might have tried. also, when you get a glut of something, it pays to be informed on how to save it for later (in the freezer? cooked and prepared? raw?) as well those cookbooks which give you new ideas for even familiar foods.
right now i'm getting psyched up for the storm of okra i know will be arriving mid-summer. keeping the recipes stacked and ready to go...
as far as variety goes, we have received a smattering of everything this year: asparagus, lots of lettuce, chard, greens, potatoes, onions, garlic, ONE TOMATOE, basil, dill, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, starburst squash, beets, turnips. yum.
for a comprehensive list of csas in the area, check localharvest.org
and remember the benefit to a local farmer is that they have guaranteed income from the crop and don't have to worry about what might or might not sell at market, etc.
Green Gate Farms
8604 FM 969, near intersection of Decker Lane and E. MLK
have offered CSAs in the past, and I can vouch for the veggies. You'd have to ask them if they still are. I think they also have eggs. They are all organic and quite good.
They also have a farmstand that you can buy from.
The farmstand is open on Fridays noon to 6:30, and this week from 3:00-6:00 Tues-Thurs; and Sat., 10:00-2:00. I'm told this week there are a lot of tomatoes. No, I'm not affiliated with them. It is just a small Mom and Pop outfit, so I'd like to see them do well. It is a bit far out, but not a bad drive. One of the cool things is that you can see the veggies growing in the field right behind the market.