Hooray for CSA!

Today was the first day of our CSA fruit and veggie box pick-up in the valley! This milestone is the ultimate indicator of summer’s imminent arrival!

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The basic concept is that, in the spring time, you buy a share in a farm and then, throughout the growing season, you receive regular instalments of food from that farm at no further cost. In this arrangement, farmers get real dollars up front so that they have a float of money at the beginning of the season when they need it. And, since farmers know where their fruits and veggies will be going, they can spend their energies on farming, instead of trying to market and distribute their produce and dealing with middle men, who would take a big cut.

In our experience, a farm share costs from $200 to $600 and, for that, you receive a small rubbermaid tub of produce each week from mid-June to mid-October. The farm arranges  a pick-up day when all the share-holders come to collect their weekly share of in-season food. The produce is always fresh, crisp and plentiful, having been harvested the previous day. In-season food can mean that you may receive little more that onions and kale in June and then be absolutely swimming in tomatoes during late August. It also means that if the growing season is unseasonable wet or too dry, your weekly share will reflect that.

Over our last few years in the big city, we bought shares in Community Supported Agriculture from a few different farms in the Fraser Valley. One farm we tried supplied huge tubs of food for us but it was not the types of vegetables that we were accustomed to eating.

photo courtesy of http://vegtrials.blogspot.ca/

How many chinese cabbages can you eat in one week?

Another CSA farm, Nathan Creek Organics, supplied a fabulous selection of delicious, organic produce but the pick-up location was either far out at the farm in Langley (about one hour away from home) or at a pick-up depot in deepest, darkest Vancouver (where neither of us worked) which made weekly pick-ups a chore.  (I see from their website that they now have multiple pick-up locations all over Greater Vancouver)

We have also bought Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) shares in Skipper Otto’s Fish Boat. For this, we headed to the docks when the fish boat came in and we would pick-up our supply of sockeye salmon. During one banner year, our $200 share supplied us with 13 whole sockeye salmon!

Last year, when we first moved, we looked around for a similar CSA farm in the Comox Valley but were unable to find one. We contented ourselves with the twice-a-week farmer’s market and the local fish docks for fresh seafood, since both of these are farmer-direct opportunities.

This year we are lucky to be part of Merville Organics in the first year of their CSA endeavour. Ripple Farm and Amara Farm work together to produce weekly produce boxes for their shareholders. On Friday, FM went to the farm (about 2 kilometres away from home) to pick up our first box.

First week’s CSA share (photo from mervilleorganics website)

At the farm, he met the farmers and was given a guided walk-through of the pick-up procedures by one of their helpful children. He came away with a bulging bag of produce that looks gorgeous!

6 thoughts on “Hooray for CSA!

  1. I haven’t heard of CSA farms before this blog. How amazingly smart!?! I’m going to look into this in my community. Thanks

    1. I’m sure you’ll find one where you live. It might be too late to sign up for this year but you never know. Let me know what you find.

    1. That farmer’s philosophy was to provide a BIG and heavy share each week so he grew a lot of big heavy cabbages. Personally I don’t mind if the share is small. Fresh herbs, salad greens and tiny peas are so flavourful!
      Thanks for stopping by!

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