Monday, May 07, 2012

Is it CSA Time Yet?

A seedling growing at Wickham Farms.
I think it's broccoli.


I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas. I am so impatient for CSA harvest time to arrive! It’s been way too long since I’ve had fresh locally grown veggies.

I work at Wickham Farms in Penfield, where I’m also a member if its community-supported agriculture program (CSA).  I can head out to the field and see that peas and lettuce are sprouting. Swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower seedlings are growing. Other goodies are in the ground, and we’re waiting for them to sprout. I want to cheer them on. Grow, plants, grow!

For those who are considering joining a CSA, I thought I’d share a few observations.

Splitting shares: Although it’s the first year for the CSA at Wickham Farms, for several years, I split a share of the CSA from Porter Farms. Splitting a share worked out great – we simply divided our bag of produce in half each week. This is a good option for people who won’t consume the amount of veggies in a weekly CSA share. Farmers are usually OK with people splitting a share as long as there’s just one name on the membership.

Another seedling. Pretty sure this is
cabbage. As you can tell, I'm the writer/
photographer, not the farmer.
Cost comparison: People sometimes want to calculate whether veggies are cheaper through a CSA. It’s difficult to compute, but my hunch is that there’s probably not a major cost difference one way or another. The reason to belong to a CSA is to eat fresh local produce and support local farmers. If there’s a cost savings, it probably comes from eating out less often because there are vegetables at home waiting to be used.

New favorites: Belonging to a CSA made me a better cook, because I learned to cook veggies that were new to me. I became a fan of leeks and beets, neither of which I had cooked before. (In fact, my 17-year-old son pesters me to make leek confit, a recipe I tried during my past CSA.) When people sign up for the Wickham Farms CSA, we ask them their favorite veggies, just to be sure we haven’t missed anything on our planting list. A common response is, “just surprise us – we want to try new things.” I’m looking forward to trying tatsoi and celeriac – two items on our planting list – this coming season.

Anyone else looking forward to CSA time?

 This also appears in my Democrat and Chronicle Flavors of Rochester blog, published today.

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