Are you looking for a way to feel closer to your food source but aren’t sure if the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model is a good fit for you and your family?
Maybe you’re a little uncertain about what the challenges may be, or you’re worried about how the price tag compares to what you spend at the grocery store, or you want to know what makes a CSA different from all of the new meal delivery services that are popping up all over the place right now.
We’ve put together a few questions below that we hope will help you decide if a CSA is right for you. Make sure to be honest with yourself about your abilities, time commitments, and desires while turning these questions over in your mind!
How do you define “Value”?
CSAs are an opportunity to build connections between your family and the farm that you help support. They also offer flavor, freshness, and a connection to your food source that a grocery store or meal delivery service cannot provide no matter how good of a “deal” they offer. On average over the course of the season, members enjoy an additional 10% more produce over the purchase price, but we feel the biggest value is in connection, community building, and doing something important to you. If getting to know your farmer, and bringing truly quality produce to your dining table mean more to you than convenience foods and bargain prices, a CSA may be right for you.
Are You An Adventurous Eater?
Joining a CSA will introduce you to new and varied foods, some of which you may never have tried before! We’ll give you tools, our favorite recipes, and our best advice to tackle some of those new-to-you items, but a spirit of curiosity and adventure are required! Do your research: If you’re interested in joining a CSA, look for box pictures or pack lists to see what kinds of items and amounts are included each week. Some CSA’s include more adventurous or unique items, while others are focused on the staples, so finding a good farm match is important to your own personal success!
Learning how to eat seasonally and developing a sense of vegetable literacy can be challenging at first, so it is important to approach the experience with curiosity and a willingness to experiment in your kitchen.
Do You Enjoy Cooking?
A CSA share is a treasure box of delicious unprocessed food, which means that it takes time and energy to transform these raw ingredients into meals. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef to fully reap the rewards of your weekly share and we’ll help you get started by sharing our favorite tried and true recipes, but you will need to invest in some quality time with your kitchen. If you don’t already enjoy some meals at home but hope to, a bi-weekly share may be right for you. Just remember, simple dishes prepared with love are often the tastiest!
Can You Be a Flexible Meal Planner?
Since your farmer harvests and packs vegetables as they naturally ripen, being a CSA member means giving up a certain amount of control over what vegetables you receive each week. Meal planning far in advance, or receiving the exact combination of vegetables for that favorite dish is often not an option. We’ll help you build up a functional pantry but you’ll need to embrace the spirit of spontaneity, choose recipes on the fly, swap out ingredients, and build your own personalized methods for making the most of your share. For those without their own repertoire of favorite recipes, our suggestions use several items from each weeks' box to help you find new flexible family favorites and make the most of each box. If you’re excited about trying new recipes and learning to be a flexible cook, a CSA may be right for you!
Are You Committed To Learning A New Way of Eating?
It can take some time and a lot of trial and error to master the skills of eating the CSA way. Some weeks you will feel on top of the world, with creative dishes gracing your table every night and not a single veggie ending up in the compost bin, other times you might be too tired to do more than throw everything into a soup pot. Setting realistic goals, accepting imperfection and committing to the challenge is the ticket to success.
Don’t forget, Community Supported Agriculture is just one way of bringing food directly from the farm to your table. If connecting with your food source means a lot to you but the CSA model doesn’t align with your style or needs, consider a trip to your local farmers market as part of your weekly grocery shopping trip!
If you answered “yes” to many of these questions, trying a CSA could be right for you! To learn more about our CSA program and take a look at what was included in our boxes last year, click the link below. Still have questions, let us know! We’re here to help.
Are you already a member of a CSA? If so, what’s been your favorite part? Or what has been the best surprise through the experience? If you’re CSA-curious, what’s your biggest hesitation or concern? Comment below to share! Your insights might be just what someone needs to be inspired to join a local farm for the season!