In addition to garden planting time, early February is also CSA TIME! Also known at our house as “Christmas in a bin,” which is what I say every time I pick-up the CSA share each week.
Some FAQs that I’ve heard from friends about CSAs…add any additional questions in the comments. We’ve been in CSAs for the past 7+ years, so we might be able to answer some questions.
What is community-supported agriculture? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a mutually beneficial relationship between a farmer and her community. CSA members purchase farm shares. These shares ensure that the farmer will have a stable income and also allow her to develop an appropriate crop plan. In return, the farmer provides the CSA members with fresh, nutritious produce each week throughout the growing season–usually the end of May through October. Together, the farmer and CSA members share the risk and the reward of the harvest. When the crops are bountiful, members receive extra produce. When uncontrollable circumstances, such as drought or plant disease, deplete the harvest, then everyone shares the loss. Fortunately, the CSA typically grows tons of different varities, so if one crop doesn’t do so well, there’s plenty to pick up the slack.
What does a share include? This depends on the CSA. Typical CSA members receive 20-22 weeks of fresh, seasonal produce, including lettuce, spinach, turnips, radishes, scallions, onions, cabbage, broccoli, peas, swiss chard, kale, collards, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, okra, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, summer and winter squash, eggplant, pumpkins, beets, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, celery, garlic, fruits, and herbs.
What do I do with the food? Check back here! I do a weekly post on what we do with our CSA, as well as post tons of recipes. Most CSAs also send along recipes every week with your share. Check back here for more CSA posts this year. We grow our own in our garden and participate in the CSA. That way, we have plenty of garden-fresh, local produce all summer and winter long. I’ll share my preserving methods/tricks as we go too. One of my favorite thing about participating in a CSA is the surprise every week when it shows up and deciding what to cook based on what’s in the share and/or ready in the garden.
If you’re local, here is a list of some central Indiana CSAs that I’ve heard good things about – add any that you have experience with in the comments:
Big City Farms: $575/share (only one size) with pick-up downtown
Growing Places Indy: Pricing and pick-up locations TBD
Harvestland Farm CSA*: $410 single share/$750 double share with pick-up locations all over town and in Anderson at the farm
The Farming Engineers: 2015 pricing and schedule TBD
Valentine Hill Farm: $400 single share/$600 double share with pick-ups in Zionsville, Broadripple, and northwest side
Be sure to check out the farm’s websites – many of them attend farmer’s markets as well and are worth checking out even if you don’t sign up for a CSA this year. Also, many CSAs offer discounts if you sign up before March 1, so be sure to ask about that or refer to the website for more details.
If you’re outside of central Indiana, check out Local Harvest to find a CSA in your area.
*We’re a drop-off site for Harvestland, so if you’re really local, you could pick-up your share at our house. Tell them we sent you when you send in your agreement!