It all began with one green onion. A few years ago, standing in the middle of our first garden, I threw down a few onion seeds. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, just knew I wanted to grow something. With the help of my husband and brother we had torn out a chunk of our backyard, and lovingly planted tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and last, but not least a couple seed packets for green onions.
Amazingly enough, they grew. Even more amazing was how incredibly delicious they were. Up until that point all I had ever eaten were store bought green onions. Seriously, were they even the same food? My theory was confirmed when, in the late fall, I bought a small bunch at the store and was completely disappointed. I longed for my garden fresh green onions and their explosion of flavor.
Ten years later, I’m still gardening and still learning what it means to eat seasonally. Except now I’m teaching my boys too. The last two months of observing and photographing the farm have brought us so many lessons. Our CSA box has begun to feel more like a treasure box that we eagerly anticipate each week. The boys talk about Matt, Terra and Max like they’re old friends and excitedly anticipate seeing them at the weekly farmers’ markets.
Earlier this week, I read an article written about shopping now for next year’s CSA. I shopped the farmers’ market for two years before deciding on a CSA. Not only did I want to search out the best fit for our family, but I wanted to know how much produce we’d eat in a week. Would it be worth the investment (this was a huge catch for me)? In all that time what I failed to realize is that the investment is so much more than the weekly box of veggies. You are investing in an experience. For you, for your family and for your palette. Not only that, you are investing in a farmer. A person that works hard to bring you the best crop that they can grow. A person that nourishes the soil, so that everything they grow, is full of the best nutrients the land can give. Food that is picked at the peak of freshness and given to you within days, not months, of being plucked from the vine. Not only will you taste the difference, you’ll feel it in your body too.
Had we never joined a CSA we would still be fixtures at the farmers’ market each week. Filling our recyclable bags to bring home the season’s bounty. The difference is the attachment we have to it all this year. We know our farmers’, we’ve seen the growing fields. We watch the weather and talk about how much the rain would help our farmers’ crops. We’ve eaten the yield from the land off our plates. That’s the investment. Totally worth every penny.
If you are interested in starting now to find next year’s CSA, here are a few tips…
–Start shopping your local farmers’ markets now. Do you have a favorite vendor? Inquire if they have a CSA.
–Check out Local Harvest for CSAs near you.
–Too much of an investment? Split the cost (and the box) with a friend. Not only is it cheaper, but you’ll find out how much produce your family will eat.
–Ask around. I’ve met so many families participating in CSAs this summer, networking is a great tool to find the best fit for your family.
—Still think it’s too expensive? Break down the cost of the CSA investment by the number of weeks it runs. I bet you’ll be surprised by the number. Ours ended up being a little over $30/week. Much less than we normally pay for a weeks worth of veggies.
Are you participating in a CSA? What have you learned along the way?
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