This time of year I receive more and more emails requesting information and inquiring about the upcoming summer CSA. Below is one reply I just sent off explaining a bit about how it works…
CSA stands for Community Shared Agriculture and entails a relationship by which people invest in a farms produce in advance of the harvest season. As the crops mature and are ready for market, CSA members then get a share in the bounty of the produce. This helps spread the risk of the growing season for the farmer but also offers a close connection to where your food is coming from and the opportunity to share in the abundance of the harvests.
CSA members get free choice of which veggies they take home, and me and my farm crew ensure that everything is harvested, cleaned & ready to go for each of the 20 pick-ups. The program typically starts in late May or early June, with the exact start date depending largely on the weather. To date, CSA members have consistently received more produce than they paid for, meaning it offers a discount (typically significant) beyond standard farmers market prices.
I started running a CSA at Kolapore Gardens in 2011 after a season of part-time farming here in 2010. Since then, membership has grown roughly 30% each year. Over the years I’ve spend alot of time and energy investing in the soil, building fertility as well as soil structure, so they can hold water & nutrients during dry weather, and shed excess water when its too wet. As a result, the quality of the produce has steadily improved making for beautiful produce that holds well once harvested, and tastes great. (If I do say so myself!)
I grow a wide diversity of crops, and limit new or potentially unheard of crops to a select few of my favourites, focussing on produce that is versatile, delicious, and widely accepted as enjoyable by the majority of my clients. That being said, the free choice option offers a great opportunity to swap out any item you’d rather not take home and replace it with something else. I do my best to include recipes and tips in my weekly CSA newsletter for how to put some crops you may not have heard of, such as kohlrabi, celeriac, or salad turnips, to good use for successful meal prep.
I don’t include recipes for every crop as the cherry tomatoes, spinach, carrots and sugar snap peas may not even survive the trip home from the farm or market!
More info can be found on the CSA page of my website, or you can let me know if you have any specific questions.
Thanks & I look forward to hearing from you,