Well, technically, we bought into a CSA, but I thought the above title sounded a little more catchy ;) For those of you wondering what the heck a CSA is, it's community supported agriculture. Essentially you have a partnership between a farmer (i.e.: your farm of choice that does CSA memberships) and an eater (i.e.: me, hubby, Nia, my mom, aunt Carly, etc!). You pay in advance of the season beginning (our deadline was June 1st) and you receive fresh, affordable and healthy food for 20 weeks!
How great is that, right?!
So I'm going to give you some quick details on the CSA we decided to go with:
- located in Salem, 25 mins north of Guelph.
- 3.5 acres garden that grows more than 65 kinds of veggies, herbs, fruits and flowers.
- all organic.
Our main criteria was going with an organic farm, and I actually inquired about this farm last year, but the season had already begun, so we didn't want to start halfway through. They were also really helpful, informative and super nice!
What we went with:
- a large share
- described as for: a family or veggie-loving individual
- cost: $695
We are actually splitting the share with my mom, which makes the cost much more manageable, but I seriously think Tyler and I could eat a full share's worth to ourselves. But, since it's our first time ever doing this - and my mom wanted to do it as well - we thought buying a full-share and splitting it was the best way to go!
This past Saturday was our very first pick-up and I wanted to let you in on what we got (and also so you can get an idea of what a "full-share" looks like).
Our first CSA pick-up:
- 1/2 lb spring mix greens
- 1/2 lb spinach
- 1/2 lb sunflower sprouts
- 2 broccoli heads
- 2 bunches of kale
- 1 large lettuce head
- 2 bunches of spring onions
- 2 bunches of rhubarb (about 4 stalks per bunch)
- 2 pints of strawberries
It's a pretty good selection, right? And easy enough to split in half to give my mom her share.
While I was at the farmer's market though, I also picked up some radishes and asparagus.
And, peonies. Because they're my favourite and I could not pass up these beauties!
How we plan to use everything:
Lots of smoothies and salads (for the greens).
I also attempted making a strawberry rhubarb oatmeal that turned out awesome...especially with a splash of coconut milk!
Use the remaining veggies for a stir fry and/or a random 'throw it all' together type meal. I can tell you this much; it's only Tuesday and we've already used over 50% of the share, which was more accurately used probably by Monday instead (so within 2 days of having the stuff). We either need to slow it down on the veggie consumption (ugh, not gonna happen) or make sure to purchase a bit extra to get us through the week.
And finally, I also wanted to give you the deets on the pros and cons of the whole CSA membership (or, at least these are what I feel they are):
- it's cheaper than if you were just buying the veggies/fruits each week (full share is approx $34.75/week, but you're getting closer to $50 worth of stuff)
- they send out a weekly email a few days prior to pick-up to let you know what you'll be receiving that week
- they also attach some recipes/inspiration on what to use the produce for
- if they have a ton of one crop that week, they'll say, 'take as much of X as you want.' (I'm crossing my fingers that this happens with peppers!)
- like I mentioned above, it's all organic!
- if you really don't like something, you can swap it for something else (I mention this below, as well)
- you get what's in season.
- it's not the same stuff week after week; you get to try new things constantly
- it's a huge upfront cost; especially when you're not getting to see where your money's going for the first couple of weeks
- since you have to pick up your share, it means that you pretty much have to be around for 20 Saturday's in a row
- for humungous veggie lovers (such as Tyler and myself) even the full share might not be enough for the 2 people! (But then again, this I'm not sure of right now because we've only done one pick-up so far, but I, for sure, could have taken some of my mom's portion this week and still wanted more veg!)
- you don't get to choose which foods you get each week; the only 'pro' to this is that if you really didn't like something (like, say, me with fennel), then you can ask to swap it out for something else!
- you have to pay $30 extra (on top of your share amount) OR volunteer on the farm for 4 hours (with a baby, volunteering wasn't really an option, so we paid)
- if you like getting the same vegetables each week, then this might not be the best scenario, because the foods are constantly changing
- you have to bring your own bags - so if you forget, that would suck! (I don't think this is a huge 'con' but just wanted to note it)
All-in-all, I'm excited for the season. I will definitely keep you guys updated on how it goes, and might even post what we receive each week (would 20 weeks worth of those kind of posts be too much?! Even brief ones?? Could this be 'the new' weekly grocery haul that fell off the earth not too long ago?!). Nia's pretty stoked about the whole situation too - bring on the veggies!!
Have you ever done a CSA? What was your experience like?
What do you think about the idea of it?
Have you heard of CSA before?