CSA – Community Supported Agriculture

If you don’t know what this is don’t worry, I grew up on a Dairy and didn’t know fully what a CSA share until I worked at a farm in grad school that sold CSAs.

Essentially it is a system that connects the farmer and consumers by allowing the consumer to subscribe to the harvest of a certain farm or group of farms. It is an alternative socioeconomic model of agriculture and food distribution that allows the producer and consumer to share the risks of farming. In return for subscribing to a harvest, subscribers receive either a weekly or bi-weekly box of produce or other farm goods. This includes in-season fruits and vegetables and can expand to dried goods, eggs, milk, meat, etc. Typically, farmers try to cultivate a relationship with subscribers by sending weekly letters of what is happening on the farm, inviting them for harvest, or holding an open-farm event. Some CSAs provide for contributions of labor in lieu of a portion of subscription costs.

We are so used to getting any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year, which isn’t how farming works. Foods are seasonal. For better or worse (when you have 10lbs of chard to deal with).

Sometimes subscribing to a full CSA share can be intimidating (or expensive up front) and I will be honest with my work schedule I can’t always do it either. The good news is there are other options available. The one I have been enjoying is:

Full Circle

It combines convenience and local.

  • You can skip a week or cancel at any time
  • You can choose (to an extent) what goes into your box out of the seasonal options
  • You get to choose the amount (from a minimum)

The reason I wanted to write this is because as awesome it is, it isn’t always convenient when you are busy, and there are some easy ways to make sure you don’t waste your box or feel overwhelmed.

This week I got A LOT of chard, kale, and beets (seasonal)… the best thing you can do it wash and prep it right away.

As you can see from the picture below that is exactly what I did. Some ideas are:

  • Chop and freeze any greens you aren’t going to be able to use right away (kale, chard, spinach, beet tops) and use them in sauces, in stir-fry, or in a smoothie (my favorite)
  • Chop any other vegetables you can use that week so they are convenient (I chopped carrots and beets for salad, as well as some mushrooms), this way you can just toss everything together for a quick lunch salad
  • Lastly, this week I had so many beets that I went ahead and roasted some of them to add to salads and dinners this week.
  • Even with fruit, if I know I cant eat it all I will freeze them for smoothies or cobblers (did this last year with 10lbs of cherries)

Hope you try it out!