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A PSA about CSAs

July 27, 2012

This is the first post in a series about CSAs and local foods, which will continue throughout the summer and fall. I signed up for my first CSA this year to learn more about local, seasonal foods and to introduce more variety into my diet — and I’m excited to share it with you!  -Tiffany, Growing Chefs! Intern

What is “CSA”?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, also known as Community Shared Agriculture. CSA programs are a way for consumers to form relationships with, and directly support, local farmers.

A midsummer CSA box from UBC Farms
http://ubcfarm.ubc.ca/markets-and-events/csa_box

How does it work?

At the beginning of the season (late winter/early spring), consumers can become CSA members by buying a “share” in a farm at a fixed rate. As crops are harvested, the CSA members receive their share of the harvest — typically a box of produce that will feed 2-4 people for a week, but quantity and frequency varies with the farm and the type of CSA.  Shares are picked up at the farm or at a local farmers’ market, or are delivered directly to the CSA member.

What are the benefits?

CSA members receive fresh, local foods, and are often exposed to new foods! Members also form a relationship with the farmers that grow their food, and in many cases are invited to visit the farm where their food is grown. Farmers are able to cover pre-season costs and have guaranteed business throughout the season.

Which farms offer CSA programs?

Many local farms offer CSA programs. CSAs can involve vegetables, fruit, grain, eggs, meat, and even wild-caught fish! An extensive list of CSAs in the Lower Mainland and surrounding areas can be found at: http://www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca/resources/knowledge-pantry/csa/  Or, ask your favourite grower at your local farmers’ market.

What’s in the box?

What you’ll get in your share depends on the farm that you choose. As an example, this year I’ve signed up for a small share with Klipper’s Organic Acres. My mid-July box included:

  • 1/2 lb cherries
  • 1 lb mixed green and yellow beans
  • 1 lb sugar snap peas
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 head lettuce
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small bag basil

I intended to take a picture of my box for this blog post, but I ate too much of it on the way home! So far I’ve received a lot of old favourites, plus some veggies that are not in my regular rotation — like kohlrabi and golden beets. I’m also becoming a lot more familiar with the seasonality of local foods.

Are you involved with a CSA? What’s in YOUR box? Write about your experience in the comments!

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