If you’re looking to supplement the produce you’re growing yourself this year, a CSA share is a great way to get local (often organically-grown) produce while supporting a local family farm.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it is a new(ish) model started in Japan in the 1990s to help better connect farmers directly with consumers. Basically, farms offer up shares at the beginning of the season to consumers. The consumer pays a price upfront for a share in the farm’s produce over the course of the season. This setup allows the farmer more capital upfront in the growing season, when he/she needs it most, and it gives the consumer direct access to local, delicious produce that they often wouldn’t be able to find in the store. We have also found that “buying in bulk” so to speak via a CSA saves us money throughout the Indiana growing season. Between our CSA, local farmer’s markets and our plot at the Grace Garden, we rarely have to go to the grocery store, which makes me very happy! Aside from the fact that shopping with my rambunctious nearly two-year-old is a painful experience, I love keeping our dollars in our own community.
We have been doing the CSA thing for four years now, and we think it’s one of the best things going – behind growing your own, of course. We’ve found that, between our CSA share and what we grow at our home and our Grace Garden plot, we’re able to give away alot of fresh produce to local families in need, eat some amazing and unique meals all summer and fall long, and we always have tons to preserve too, which makes for fresh, healthy eating long into the winter months. As a matter of fact, we made pesto pasta last night from a huge batch of pesto we had made at the end of last summer.
Check out Going Local’s site (a great resource for local food news, by the way) for a mostly complete listing of CSAs around central Indiana. LocalHarvest.org is a great resource, as well, and it has information on all kinds of local food all over the country. We love to check out LocalHarvest before going on vacations!