TGIF everyone 🎉🙌🏽👏🏽❣️ And if it's Friday then its time for my weekly Food For Thought Fridays Post. So without further ado . . . .
During my recent appearance on Hot Water Cornbread, I mentioned my "CSA" a few times. And explained this as a box of produce from a local farm that I pick up every week throughout the growing season. For our CSA - it's a 22 week season starting in early May through October.
"CSA" stands for Community Supported Agriculture. And it's a budget-friendly way to feast on local Real Food goodness every week. Not to mention saving me repeated trips to the grocery to restock on fresh foods during the week. We've been members of a CSA from Elmwood Stock Farm in Georgetown, KY since we started our Real Food journey.
Simply put, our weekly CSA is a A Box of Bountiful, Blissful FUN 🎉🙌🏽💃🏽😃 Beautiful, fresh, locally grown produce that is an effective and socially responsible tool for your Real Food Toolbox 😉 😋🌱🔪🍽
If you're not familiar with the CSA concept, here are the bare bones basics:
- Local farms offer "produce shares" before the start of growing season. Shares consist mostly of veggies. But also fruits, berries, or other locally farmed food items.
- So basically a subscription to receive a weekly container (box, bag, basket) of seasonal produce throughout the primary farming season.
- The farmers typically choose what to offer.
- The CSA concept is rooted in a model of "shared risk". Consumers pay up front for their shares. And farmers use their best efforts to provide an abundant box every week. The risk aspect comes into play if weather or other conditions cause "slim pickin's". The farmers may not be able to offer as much. And the consumers are not typically reimbursed.
- The good news is that this shared risk fosters a "we're in this together" community spirit and good will. So farmers feel a responsibility and loyalty to their subscribers. Most will making amends in other ways. Our CSA, for example, may offer smaller yields in the beginning of the season. But continue to build as the season progresses. Or if severe weather causes low-yield with one crop, we'll get an abundance of another.
So there might be a risk of feeling that you didn't get your money's worth. We've never felt that way. But if the potential for this makes you feel anxious. Or if you cannot afford the risk. Or if you'd rather not take a chance on getting veggies you're not familiar with. Then a CSA model may not be your thing. And no worries about that. There are other tools in your Real Food Toolbox to help you buy fresh produce. So don't feel bad about passing on this particular one.
Overall though, a CSA is a Win-Win for both the farmers and subscribers. Farmers benefit because a CSA:
- Helps with the cash flow because payments for the share are made early in the season.
- Allows them to more effectively anticipate their business needs because they at least know how many shares they must provide throughout the season.
- Offers the opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow.
Subscribers benefit because a CSA offers:
- Access to ultra-fresh Real Food every week.
- Exposure to a variety of new veggies, which can lead to new ways of cooking.
- Opportunities to visit the farm at least once a season to see and learn how food is grown.
- Returning customers may receive a loyalty discount for renewing their subscriptions.
- Developing a relationship with the farmers who grown their food and learn more about how food is grown.
CSA's will vary, depending on the farm. And some may offer additional shares for other items grown, raised, or produced on their farms:
- Different sizes of produce shares.
- The opportunity for consumers to "mix & match" by separating the produce in groups. Allowing them to select -- to a certain degree -- according to their preferences. And some farmers may even donate extra produce to a food bank. YAY for Food Justice!!
- A "swap box" where consumers can leave produce they don't want and/or take something they do want.
- Farms that raise livestock or poultry may offer additional shares consisting of meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and eggs.
- Farms that produce their own pantry products (Salsa, jams, honey, etc.) may offer the additional shares for these.
- Farms may offer extended shares during the winter season.
For us, what makes our CSA super, duper, extra fun is the opportunity to build relationships with local farmers. We love talking to them about the food they are growing and we are eating. And we love being able to tour their farm. Seeing our food growing in their fields. It's truly a very special experience that builds trust and confidence and comfort in knowing where our food comes from and that we are supporting an important cog in our local economy and food system.
Although the CSA season is already underway, some farms may offer pro-rated shares. This is how we got started with our program. And if shares are no longer available or you prefer to wait for next season. Then be sure to leave your contact information. So you'll be on the list for next season.
Visit the Local Harvest website to find a CSA in your area.
Kick Sugar To The Curb!
If you take the challenge, please let me know. I have received so much support and positive energy from you all. That I would like to return the favor 😉