Is Anyone Participating in a CSA?
Just wondering if anyone in the lower mainland is participating in a CSA. What kind of stuff do you get in the summer, are you happy with pricing, and do you have to make regular trips to the store for missing produce items (i.e. garlic, onions etc...).
Ah yes my apologies! Before posting I thought "make sure you define it" but then of course I forgot to do so.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Essentially a farmer sells CSA memberships to people for a set price before the planting season begins. The farmer uses this money to help him fund his farming operation and when he starts to harvest he shares the farm produce equally with all the members of the CSA that bought a membership. Usually you go to a farmers market once a week and pick up your box of goodies. The thing is you don't know what will be in your box so you sort of have to be ready to work with what you get.
I have been thinking of doing this for a while now but I was curious as to how people find it. We all know our growing season here in Vancouver is short, so is it worthwhile.
re: Georgia Strait
do you know what the city Vancouver project linked above is about? it's not really clear to me - tho it sounds interesting, as does approach you refer to in your OP.
i like the idea of container gardening - it's amazing where swiss chard will grow, even as volunteer plant. PLus i like idea of mixing some ornamental (geranium for eg) with leafy like chard
We did a CSA with Glen Valley Co-op out in Abbotsford a couple of years ago...while we were happy with the pricing and the quality of the produce, it was a bit too much for the two of us in terms of quantity, particularly as we wanted to check out the farmers' markets as well, so we didn't continue. As far as I can recall, we got chard, kale, lettuce, carrots, squashes, zucchini, onions, cucumber etc. but we did find ourselves supplementing our box with trips to the grocery store-- that may just be due to the stuff we like to eat...
Finally have some time to reply...
I'm very into CSAs and have participated in several!
For a number of summers - I've participated in UBC farm's CSA. This works out well for myself any my SO as it's close to work and the variety and amounts have suited us well. This CSA has very few new spots each year and those go by lottery. Funds go to support the farm's various programs. The box contents, as with all CSA's, depend on what's in season - greens predominate in the early part of the season, and squashes, root veg and beans in the latter. The quality has been excellent (especially the superb salad mix). We do supplement for things UBC doesn't grow or that aren't local (eg, citrus), or things we use a lot of (eg, tomatoes, eggplant). UBC also offers add-ons like eggs, and cut flowers. We had the egg add-on (bi-weekly due to limited supply)- wonderfully fresh free range eggs.
More info on the UBC farm CSA here: http://ubcfarm.ubc.ca/markets-and-events/csa_box
One winter, we subscribed to Klipper's CSA (a weekly box was prepared for pickup each winter market date). Since it was winter, it consisted of keepers like squash, apples and onions (the first and last few boxes would have some greens included). Walnuts were provided on occasion, and also jars of jam and salsa. Klippers freezes tomatoes and cherries at the end of their season and these would typically be in the box too. The frozen tomatoes were great! Texture suffers to they're best suited for cooked use but the flavour was fantastic - so much better than canned. We ended up with a pileup of squash and apples that took a while to use. We didn't re-subscribe as the Saturday pickup wasn't convenient any more. Otherwise we were very happy with it.
More info on Klippers CSA here http://klippersorganics.com/csa.html
They offer a summer CSA as well with pickup available at various markets.
I bake much of my own bread and for the past 3 years have participated in the Urban Grains CSA. This provides me with 20Kg of locally grown whole grain flour (both hard flour for bread, and soft for other baking is grown. Rye and triticale were available in the first 2 years but last year's poor growing season didn't yield these). The quality of the flour has been good but each crop has had varying gluten levels. I adapt my bread recipe according to the flour once I've figured out its characterists (adding vital wheat gluten or mixing in some AP flour). The wheat is avail as flour or as berries. I get though most of it over the winter and store most in the freezer. http://www.urbangrains.ca/
A pretty complete list of BC CSAs is available from Farm Folk City Folk (though I'm sure there are more around).
I really enjoy the relationship we develop with the farm. I feel closer to the seasons with the box each week reflecting the growing conditions. The relationship has the subscriber sharing the risk with the farm - you pay up front and receive what that growing season will provide. Last year's cool summer meant greens, greens, and more greens for many boxes.
With a CSA program, you need to be able to work with what comes. I find it fun and enjoy the variety and challenge it brings each week. We ate out less, with the box contents to use up each week and had a healthier diet as a result. YMMV.
We are a household of 2. In 2011, we subscribed to the CSA box program of Good Roots Farm. The farm is in Aldergrove, but one of the farmers lives in east Vancouver. The share was $300 for 12 weeks ($25 per week, paid in advance). We split our share with one other couple. Most of the time, our portion was very generous. We eat out at least 2 meals a week, together, and my partner eats lunch out every day. I found that we had a lot of excess produce.
Something I thought a lot of fun about subscribing to a produce box program is the whole Iron Chef sort of adventure. Each week there was perishable product which required us to "do something". Sometimes I made preserves, other weeks we just ate a home more.
I would subscribe again, if I could find someone to split the share with. I just don't cook enough at home to have a full share.