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Is a CSA right for me?

Posted 1/16/2011 8:48pm by Reuben DeMaster.

            I remember the first season that my wife and I joined a CSA.  We lived in St. Louis with no chance to grow vegetables.  When we heard about a farm that would drop off a bag of vegetables each week, we knew that we had to try it.  Each week, we drove 10 minutes to the drop off site.  It was a treat to eat those vegetables because they tasted more like the food we had grown up eating than anything that the stores sold.  There were several items to get used to like kale, arugula, and a few other leafy greens but we soon grew to enjoy everything.

             Now that I am the one growing the vegetables, I am interested in what makes some families enjoy the CSA so much and what makes some families unable to adjust.  I receive many kind comments from families who appreciate the weekly surprise of fresh vegetables.  Yet I know that others do not share the same excitement. 

             For those families who might be considering a farm membership this year, I would like to give my perspective of what type of people fit the best with a CSA. 

 1.  You have to enjoy vegetables – or at least be willing to learn to enjoy them more.  Many people think vegetables are a tasteless but necessary addition to a perfectly good meal.  This often is the case when vegetables come out of a can, are not prepared well, and are not eaten fresh.  My experience is that children will eat vegetables when they taste good.

2.  You have to cook 3 times/week.  I know that many families do not make regular meals. Families who cook daily and who enjoy vegetables have no trouble eating the weekly delivery of vegetables.  Families who do not make regular meals and do not eat as many vegetables have trouble eating all of the weekly vegetables.  If you are willing to make at least 3 meals per week, I believe that you not have trouble finishing the vegetables. 

3.  You have to be willing to try new things.  Each week, I attempt to grow a wide variety of vegetables.  Most of the items in your box will be common vegetables that you will recognize.  However, each week you will receive 1 or 2 items that you might not regularly eat like kale, turnips, or beets.  These vegetables require some research, creativity, and willingness to eat new flavors.  Improving your skill in making soup and in stir frying is essential to using new vegetables. 

4.  You must understand the value of a farm membership.  Each week for 22 weeks, you will receive fresh picked, organic vegetables delivered to your home.  This might be more expensive than purchasing vegetables that the grocery store stocks.  However, my vegetables do not travel as far, are handles less, have less time from harvest to your house, and come from a known source.  It will also be more expensive than driving to a farmer’s market each week.  However, you do not have to spend the time driving and shopping.  I understand that most of us shop for the lowest possible price.  But if price is your number one concern, then maybe you would be better off buying vegetables at a discount store or even growing your own. 

       I hope this helps you to decide if you would like to join the Willow Haven Farm CSA this year.  Thank you to all of you who continue to support the local food system. 

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