Are you thinking about buying a CSA membership to keep a steady flow of healthy, locally-grown food coming to your home? Minnesota Grown’s recent newsletter offered some information and advice to guide your decision:
Community Supported Agriculture (often abbreviated as CSA) farms are an ever popular way for consumers to get fresh, healthy and local food directly from the farm. A CSA farm sells subscriptions or memberships to their farm before planting begins, generally in late winter or very early spring. These members pay up front and then receive a share of that farms produce, generally once a week for 14-18 weeks. These shares are either picked up on the farm or delivered to an arranged drop site.
Joining a CSA is a great way to connect with a local community and your local farmer. Each farm varies in what it offers, how much it costs, the delivery/pick-up locations and the length of its season. If you are thinking about joining a farm, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
1) Compare farms and what they offer. Not every CSA farm will be a good fit for your family. Of course, begin by looking at their deliver/pick up locations – is there one that is close and convenient for you? If swinging by the farm once a week sounds like a great activity for your family, then find a farm that offers on-site pick up (lots do!). See what types of produce they grow and if they offer any additional products.
2) Stay open-minded. Most farms will include a few vegetables that you may not be familiar with – this is OK! Don’t be afraid to try the new recipe your farmer or fellow member shared with you. Also, try the vegetable a few different ways before you decide if you like it or not. You tell your kids to do this anyway, so set the example.
3) Plan prep time. It’s important to plan some time on your pick-up day or the day after to prep your share. You may need to wash, separate, cut or freeze your produce right away. Taking some time right away will make preparing your foods much easier and faster throughout the week. Exploring the contents of your box can be a fun family activity.
4) Get connected. Give feedback to your farmer about what you like and don’t like. Talk to other members about their experiences. If the farm allows, get out for a visit at least once. Read the newsletter to find out what’s happening and what’s changing at the farm. Truly make it “your farm.”