Saturday, July 13, 2013

Community Supported Agriculture

This spring, one of the items on my to-do list for preparing to move to Boston was to find a CSA. I knew it might be too late once I was back and wanted to make sure it got done. In PEI we joined a veggie box program with a local organic farm and it was great. Crystal Green Farms has a flexible system, where they email you the contents of your box the day before and a list of possible substitutions if you don't want or need everything that's offered. We really liked that eggs were included too. I think the rural community of PEI allows programs like this to be more flexible and less structured, because I was completely overwhelmed the first few times I started looking into signing up for a CSA in Massachusetts. One big issue was that the pickup windows were often short and during weekday hours which would be impossible with my work schedule. There were very few that offered weekend pickups. We used to get our veggie box on Saturday mornings at the farmer's market, which could not have been more convenient because we were there doing shopping for the week already.

I finally decided on Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA. I found them through the Clover Food Lab site. It got off to a rough start, due to delayed opening of the Clover site in Burlington and shortly after the restaurant being shut down as a result of Salmonella! Luckily, I was able to switch to another site which turned out to be much more convenient anyways. One advantage of picking up directly from a RRF site (vs. at Clover Food Lab), is that you have more flexibility with produce. For example, maybe you don't want 8 ears of corn, so you only take 6 and there is extra eggplant to make up for it. At Clover, the boxes were always pre-made. I have photographed quite a bit of the recipes I've made, but these will have to wait for another post. A friend who writes Hugging Trees and Shelling Peas has been much better at updating weekly recipes.

Having a CSA is great, you can save money, save time on grocery shopping, and have fun experimenting with new foods. It's a major motivator to eat healthy as well. Some things to ask yourself when singing up:

How far am I willing to drive to pick up my share each week? I recommend choosing a site within 30 minutes of your home or work.

What day/time will consistently be convenient for me? Some farms are very flexible, and will allow you to change your pickup site if something comes up.

Am I willing to experiment with new produce? Picky eaters beware! You will probably not receive tomatoes every week. There will be a lot of greens in the beginning. RFF has a great resource of recipes to help you figure out what to do with your produce. Like Kale Chips!

Each of these sites allows you to search by zip code to find places in your area. Many farms in the western part of the state offer metro pickups in and around the Boston area. Some farms even offer winter and deep winter shares on a bi weekly basis.


Local Harvest Map

Farm Fresh Map

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