Monday, April 18, 2011

Sharing (CSA)

This winter has been incredible-in ways both good and bad. We had the coldest, snowiest winter I can remember (we even had a white Christmas!). We visited Savannah, Georgia for the first time and fell in love with that city-the parks, the people, the ghosts-all are beautiful.
We usually have a lot of stress flying around our house-two working parents, two kids, two dogs means an awful lot of WORK. But this winter we had the added stress of a huge project at work, one parent changing jobs, and some tragedies too. Our beloved Uncle Al passed away in February after a long illness. It doesn't matter how long the illness-it still comes as a shock to your soul when you lose someone. Also, one of my aunts has been very sick and my grandmother was hospitalized.
Miraculously, through this whole stretch of dark, our household had one person get the flu (in early fall) and one person get a stomach bug. I believe whole-heartedly that our sustained health is directly tied to the winter CSA we were a part of this year. Our very favorite farmers decided to try out a winter CSA instead of a summer CSA. Somehow (I really don't remember how) I became the delivery girl for the winter CSA. Each Saturday I drove out to the farm to pick up boxes and shuttled them into a central drop-off location. I met a lot of new friends (fellow CSA members) and quite often got to teach new and random people about the joys of CSA membership. It was the highlight of each week and I cherish the love and support I received. I also appreciated the healthful food that my family received each week in the box. I would NEVER have purchased the amount of greens that we got each week...I would have bought 2 bunches and felt superior with my healthful-ness. Consider us a changed family! We ate greens in some form almost every day of the week this winter and will continue these habits!

I'm not a very prolific blogger. I'm so extroverted and people-centric that it takes a lot to get me to sit down and write about something. I much prefer to gab and gab about the things that I'm passionate about in person. My office asked me to write a blog this week for our public site-describing what a CSA is and how to find one. I'm being lazy and reposting it here. Happy Spring!



Community Supported Agriculture What is a CSA? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Small farmers offer ‘shares’ of their farm for an up-front payment. Participants then get a share of the production of the farm for a certain number of weeks. There is a high degree of variability based on the kind of CSA you join. The farmer will set the pick-up or drop-off locations, the price and the duration of the CSA. Some farmers give you some choice in what your share is each week and others pick for you. Why would I do this? I could literally talk about this for hours (I have been STOPPED on more than one occasion). I am extremely passionate about this topic and have a close connection to the farmers who provide food for my family. Your motivation for joining a CSA could depend on lots of factors and your experience will depend on the CSA that you choose. Here are some reasons but if you need more…come see me.

  • You want to be less dependent on a global food supply

  • You have concerns about food borne illnesses or broad recalls of specific foods

  • You want to eat more seasonally

  • You want to eat food grown for flavor instead of shelf stability

  • You want to eat food (as opposed to the stuff sold in boxes in fluorescent lit stores)

  • You want to diversify the type of food you eat

  • You want to know exactly what production practices went into your food

  • You want a broader sense of community

  • You want to meet people who care about food or agriculture related issues

  • You want to encourage yourself, your kids or your spouse to eat more veggies

  • You want to have someone else decide what food you’re going to eat this week

  • You’re looking for an excuse to go to the farmer’s market more often

  • You want to support our local economy and small business

Will this save me money?

This one is complicated. Since I don’t know what you normally spend on food, I can’t really answer that. My personal experience is that your food budget stays about the same-you just choose different ways to spend that money. My family used to be dairy-holics and we ate meat more often than we currently do. We’ve switched to less quantity of those products and higher quality. My kids have also switched to eating veg (carrots, turnips, radishes) in place of some of the chips and crackers that they used to eat. Are CSA’s just for veggies? You can find CSA’s for just about anything produced on a farm-fruit, eggs, chicken, pork, beef, and vegetables. There are even CSA’s for yarn, cheese and cider.

How do I find a CSA?

Here are several links:

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/SustAg/csafarms.html Locally run site by Chatham county extension agent. All of these farmers are organic and/or sustainable.

http://www.ncfarmfresh.com/Directory.asp?product=&county=region®ion=2&CSA=yes&SearchType=farms&submit=Search

State run website that lists a different subset of farmers

You can also just ask at the smaller farmer’s markets. I’m sure there’s one close to you! There's one by my office every Saturday and Tuesday (starting May 3): http://westernwakefarmersmarket.org/

and there's my favorite local one: http://www.northhillsfarmersmarket.com/

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