With the New Year upon us, I began looking for ways to make my year different. I have come across an idea that has many benefits and may challenge/compliment my current lifestyle. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a food distribution system that ties the consumer directly to the farmer. As the consumer, you sign up for a weekly delivery of seasonal produce that is grown at a local farm. CSA is beneficial for your carbon footprint as well as your nutritional and financial health. Here are some benefits and cautions to consider before signing up with a local farm through CSA:
-You will be delivered fresh produce from about May to October, depending on the specific regional growing seasons. There may be weeks where the harvest is heavier (fall) or lighter (spring).
-The weekly food delivery that you have signed up for can contain any number of produce types including garlic, potatoes, fresh salad greens, carrots, tomatoes or even sweet peas. You can shop for a CSA that meshes with your style. Don’t pick a farm that boasts about their apples if you dislike or are allergic to apples!
-There is a shared risk of signing up for only what the farm can produce. If there is a bad crop, then you have to accommodate that within your eating habits. The farm will only be able to grow what your specific environment can sustain. This can be challenging or it can create a stronger communal bond between you and other CSA members.
-By not knowing what produce will arrive at your door each week, you will be challenged to eat and cook with the seasons. It may challenge you to make home-cooked meals more often, or learn how to preserve vegetables for later in the year.
While CSA may not be the best option for me this year due to a move during the height of harvest season, I will tuck this idea away until next year when I am more permanently located. However, I hope that this idea sparks a new way to eat and engage your community. For more information on CSA available here at WSU, please visit http://css.wsu.edu/organicfarm/CSA.htm. And remember to do some research of your own on the details of CSA!