When I moved to our small CT town nearly five years ago, I’d never heard the term CSA before. Suddenly, I was hearing it everywhere, and I began to wonder what the fuss was all about. Did I need a CSA too? Yes? Maybe?? I didn’t even know! “CSA” is an acronym for Community Supported Agriculture. It basically means that you’re buying a percentage of a farm’s harvest and paying in advance. When you buy in, you’re doing so understanding that what you get is somewhat unknown. You share both the potential abundance and failure of the crops. Our local farm offers three CSA share sizes: small, regular, and large. As first timers looking to add more vegetables into our life, we opted for a small share. The price ($475, due before the harvest began!) seemed steep to me initially. However, I quickly realized that this worked out to about $25 per week, which is approximately what I spend on not-so-fresh produce that has traveled the world before hitting my plate each week at the grocery store. We are now about two months into our first CSA experience, and these are my thoughts on it from the perspective of a working mom of young kids:
- We were not eating enough veggies before. At ALL. I’m shocked by how much there is in our “small” share, and we are eating more veggies than ever. This is what we got this week alone!
- It’s really hard to meal plan when you aren’t 100% sure of what you’re getting, but it can be done. Our CSA faithfully emails the shareholders each weekend with a list of what is coming that week, and this has helped immensely. They also offer a lot of choices in each share so you don’t have to take things you won’t use.
- Suck it up and prep your veggies the day you get them. This part was hard to accept, honestly, because after working/wrangling kids/going to the farm/driving home, the last thing I feel like doing is making salads and carrot sticks. We quickly learned that 20 minutes of prep means the food will all be eaten and not forgotten in the fridge drawers.
- See if your local CSA farm lets you explore the farm while you’re picking up, and check to see if the pick up times are convenient. Our farm is like a magical kid wonderland. They have chickens, cows, horses and more, and they have no problem with us packing a snack and hanging out with the animals on pick up day. They offer two pick up days each week (pick whichever you like), and are open for pick up from 2-7. Very friendly to working parents!
- You will become a more creative cook. I’ve cooked things in the past weeks that I’d never even heard of! Our farm posts recipes on their website, and I’ve been on Pinterest more often (a mixed blessing).
- You will eat more vegetables for many reasons. One of the reasons is that you paid for them, and you don’t want to waste your money. Another is that you meet the farmers, and genuinely feel guilty for throwing out (or composting) food they grew with their own hands. Another still is that locally grown veggies picked that day in your own town are so, so good, and if you don’t eat them all, you’ll be sad and wish you did when your yard is covered under two feet of snow in January.
- Visiting the farm each week will become a favorite part of your routine. My kids look forward to going to the farm each week. I also look forward to it. It’s gorgeous, calm place, and we end up seeing people we know almost every week. I think my kids would be crushed if we didn’t do this again next summer!