CSAs Explained

Hi everyone, how are you?  After lots of juicing and rest I’m feeling much better.  I know I’ve been MIA lately, but I think the holiday season PLUS planning a wedding is a good excuse!  I didn’t put two and two together when I thought to have a wedding in December. It requires a lot of self control when there are so many cookies & treats around!

One thing helping me stay on track is my weekly box of produce from a local farm, also known as my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share.  I thought it would be a good topic to share this week since it’s always of interest in conversation.  My CSA is through Wood Duck Farm, which is just north of Houston near Cleveland.  I highly recommend this farm and look forward to picking up my share every week!

What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  When you become a member of a CSA, you buy shares of a farm’s produce in advance, then receive them weekly during the growing season.  Some seasonal shares:

Bright, colorful summer share

Warm fall share

Leafy, green spring share

How does a CSA work?

During the growing season (spring, summer, fall or winter), each member receives a weekly share of produce and must pick it up at a designated location.  There are usually multiple pick-up locations for members.  My pick-up location, for example, is hosted by a family living in the Heights and is only a couple of blocks away from my house.  Each week at a set date and time, I go pick up my box of produce that’s waiting on their porch.

How much food is in a CSA?
This depends on your farm and the program you choose.  My CSA offers full or partial shares.  A full share is enough produce to feed a family of 4, while a partial can easily feed a couple or even a single person that cooks and doesn’t go out to eat often.  Some farms do bi-weekly shares (every other week) as well.

How much will a CSA cost me?
Again, it depends on your program, but mine is between $20-$25/week, and I feel that it is extremely reasonable for sustainable, local produce.  It saves me a trip to the Farmer’s Market, where I’d probably spend more.

Why should I do a CSA?

  • Variety: there are a lot of vegetables I wouldn’t have eaten or tried if not for the CSA.  It’s a surprise every week and challenges my cooking
  • Seasonal Food: here in Houston, we don’t get a lot of seasonal weather changes, but I love that my food changes during my CSA seasons.  In the summer I get juicy, tart blueberries, while in the fall I see more squash and kale.
  • Local, Sustainable:  I feel great supporting a local business that farms sustainably.  And my produce didn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to my house.
  • Time Saver: I don’t have to go to the Farmer’s Market (though I love it) weekly.
  • Taste:  My fiance can now tell the difference between store-bought and farm arugula.  Seriously.  I’ve had the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted from the CSA and have become a salad mix snob.

Are there any downsides to a CSA?

  • Freedom: you get your produce chosen for you, which is a great surprise, but sometimes you want broccolini, and it just isn’t there.  If you are a picky eater when it comes to vegetables, maybe a CSA is not for you.
  • Meal Planning: I often don’t find out what is in my CSA until a day prior.  So I don’t do a lot of my meal planning until mid week.
  • Travel: when you purchase a CSA share, you are committing to all of its shares.  If you travel a lot for work, you’ll have to give away some of your shares.

And one last thought – a CSA share could be a great gift idea for a friend or family member!    Wood Duck Farm starts their winter CSA share in February of 2011, so check them out.

Posted in CSA

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