CSA is short for community supported agriculture. We joined our first CSA about ten years ago back in Flagstaff, AZ. We heard about it and were immediately intrigued. We had no idea what we were in for but it was an amazing experience. We loved knowing we were getting food raised right within the community and we enjoyed really getting to know the folks that grew our food. I made us more eager to try new vegetables and we found we became healthier eaters as a result.
Our CSA required upfront payment for our portion, commonly called a share. Later, when the growing season was underway and harvests were in we all met at our pickup location and were each given a basket of fresh food that was reserved for us, to last us the week. It came directly from the farm and was grown specifically for us.
Joining a CSA is the perfect way to take the middleman out of sourcing your family’s food, reducing the carbon footprint of your groceries, plus it supports local farms and your community economically speaking. You’ll also enjoy fresher foods from your CSA farmer than you’ll typically see in grocery stores.
One thing about CSA’s that is different than going to the grocery store and just choosing your produce is that most CSA’s do not give you the option to pick and choose what you take home for that week. It’s not because the farmer wants to be a control freak, it is because produce is seasonal and grows best at certain times in the growing season. Most of you know this already but it really tends to hit home when you bring home a basket of produce that has unfamiliar items in it and you aren’t sure if you’ll like them or how you are supposed to prepare them.
For us in our fist CSA experience, it was arugula. Lots of salad greens are typical in the early season and we just kept getting arugula. It wasn’t something we liked to eat in a salad and it was kind of hard to come up with ways to use arugula and other uncommon items that came in our baskets. Unfortunately, as consumers we’ve become accustomed to just eating a select few common produce items (tomatoes, onion, potato, etc.) and it’s not particularly beneficial for our health to eat such a limited variety of produce items. As I mentioned, our CSA eating experience pushed us to expand our produce horizons, this was a good thing though it was hard at the time.
When you join a CSA think of it as more than just stocking the refrigerator with produce… Think of it as an adventure in local, seasonal eating and local community.
As a CSA member you are becoming more connected to the land that grows your food, the land is sustaining you with freshly picked goods, you are helping a local farmer who in turn helps the community by supplying local food and you are investing in food options for future generations. What’s not to love about that?
To find out about our farm’s current CSA membership opportunities and to sign up click here: https://www.ryderfamilyfarm.com/southern-illinois-produce-csa/