What is a Farm Share or CSA?
Why I love subscribing to a farm share, and why I think you should subscribe, too.
Farm share and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) are terms that describe a partnership between a farm and the people who consume the farm’s food.
By participating in this relationship, members essentially buy a share of a farm’s harvest before the season begins, understanding that unpredictable conditions such as weather and labor supply can affect the harvest.
The security of a contract eliminates the need for farmers to invest time marketing their produce during the busy growing season, enabling them to concentrate solely on producing food. In exchange, members receive the highest quality produce always picked at the peak of its ripeness.
Why Join a Farm Share?
I joined my first CSA, Lancaster Farm Fresh, in 2006 while living in Philadelphia. That spring and summer I discovered many new vegetables — kohlrabi, all sorts of greens, many varieties of turnips — and while I found the quantity of radishes I received maddening, I loved the experience, from picking up the box of vegetables every week at Reading Terminal Market to learning about new vegetables to meeting the farmers at the summer potluck.
The CSA forced me to cook seasonally and taught me to enjoy vegetables in their purest state often with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. I have since joined CSAs all over the country from Southern California to Northern Virginia to Upstate New York.
In sum, the reasons I love belonging to a farm share include:
the delicious, fresh produce I receive without having to make a trip to the farmer’s market
the affordable price: it is astounding how much high-quality produce I receive every week for under $30
connection to the farm: there’s something very rewarding about being connected to a single local farm in our otherwise heavily centralized (and fragile) food system
connection to the region: subscribing to a CSA has made me more in tune with what the land in my immediate vicinity is offering throughout the year
All of this said, I understand and have spent years working through the challenges farm shares pose:
you don’t have a choice in the selection of vegetables you receive, so you have to be willing to try new vegetables
you receive all of your vegetables at one time, so you have to know how to properly store them
some of your veggies will wither away faster than others, so you’ll want to make a simple meal plan designed around the vegetables’ durability
This is where The Farm Share Newsletter comes in. Every Tuesday I’ll share tips and tricks for prepping your vegetables for storage to strategizing which vegetables to eat first to meal planning and cooking.
If you are interested in joining a farm share or CSA, Local Harvest is a great resource for finding one near you.
Never heard of a Farm Share, Looks interesting! David N.