Belong to a CSA (Community Shared Agriculture)? What can I expect from my membership?
Hello! My husband and I bought a share of a local farm (CSA) and will be receiving a weekly bounty of produce and herbs from May-October. I'm giddy about this new adventure but also slightly wary. Am I going to have more swiss chard than I know what to do with? Please tell me about your good and bad experiences so I'll know what to expect!
Here's a great previous thread on this topic: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/453590
It really depends on the CSA and your ability to be flexible on whether or not you're going to end up feeding your compost pile. They are a great experience, I've been a member of a fruit/veg coop for 5 years and a meat coop for the past 6 months.
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You'll probably have more luck posting your question on a local board to see if anyone else belongs to your CSA. Every CSA is different - some offer fruit, some offer herbs (mine doesn't), some are year round, etc.
I belong to one in San Diego and we get a lot of lettuce, green onions, mizuna/arugula/parsley, and tomatoes. In the summer we sometimes get heirloom tomatoes. They just started offering fruit from other orchards, but lately I've just been getting limes.
I've been a member of a CSA (in New York State) for three years now. You likely WILL have to change the way you think about menu planning-- it becomes, "what do I have, and what should I make with it" rather than "what do I want to make, and let's make a shopping list". Here in New York, the produce is VERY seasonal-- more lettuce than I know what to do with in the spring (so we try things like cooking it, or using it for wraps) and plenty of sturdy root vegetables and kale in the fall (sometimes hard to sell the kids on kale or collards *again*). I personally love the concept, and the creativity required, but some people have trouble getting around the idea that you get what they give you, not necessarily always what you want.
Yes indeed - I was not expect so many varieties of lettuce for the first month or so. You also end up using the FIFO method a lot more for veggies, but the up side is that they last much longer than veggies you would get at the grocery store (the down side to this upside is that you get more veggies to eat the next week - so start canning or you will have a LOT of veggies).
However, this was just the motivation I needed to eat more veggies and be less picky about it - I couldn't bear to waste a lot of veggies, so I just ate them. This year we will be canning and pickling some of the veggies we receive. It is a good amount for 4-5 people, but for 2 people, it is a large amount.
We've belonged to a CSA for years (Stillman's Farm in Boston) and rate it highly. A lot of it is going to depend on your farm and their way of doing things, but overall, the best way to approach your share box is to pretend you're on Iron Chef. Open the box, see what you've got, think about what you can do with it. Some things will be more delicate and you'll want to use them first (leafy things, tomatoes, berries, etc.) and some will store for longer periods. Occasionally, you're going to get something that you will have no frickin' clue what on earth you're supposed to do with it. For us, that was kohlrabi. Think of things like that as an adventure. Turns out raw kohlrabi is good julienned into salads.
Love love love my CSA!! this will be my 3rd year and I can't say enough good things about it and the really nice people I have met. Where is your CSA? and for what it's worth swiss chard and the other greens, kale, collards, etc...freeze very well!!