Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Trying Community-Supported Agriculture

...or as it's commonly abbreviated, CSA. For anyone that doesn't know, this basically means we are getting our produce directly from a local farmer (there are a few more details).

Yesterday, Harmony watched a documentary called "The World According to Monsanto." It's available for viewing on YouTube. I am going to watch it after I finish and publish this post. But I can tell you that while watching it, Harmony e-mailed me to say that it made her determined never to buy something that was sprayed with pesticides or treated with growth hormones.

When I got home, we discussed our options. What to do? We already eat mostly homemade foods. Most store-bought organic produce is too expensive for us. Although we are trying to grow our own vegetables, what we currently have is not nearly enough to even halfway sustain our needs.

Way back when, we discussed the virtues and un-virtues of a CSA. We were not too fond of the idea that we were slaves to the seasons. At the time, we had no plans or goals to become self-sufficient, produce-wise. But now that we do have goals to eventually be self-sufficient, the slaves-to-the-seasons idea isn't so bad. (Read more about this in my previous post titled "God and Gardening: Lessons in Submission.")

Blah blah blah, skip a few details. We went on Local Harvest and found a farmer that has just about everything and more. This operation is Certified Naturally Grown, year-round, and seems willing to work with people on missed pickups. We have signed up for a 12 week period of vegetables and fruits. The pictures on this farm's website are tantalizing, and we hope the real-life orders are as good as the pictures.

Although Harmony was crunching numbers last night, I don't quite remember how it will match up to our current grocery budget. It is at least competitive with what we spend now, and on top of that, it is local and naturally grown. Probably much less expensive than if we bought organic produce at grocery stores. Definitely less expensive than if we bought organic produce at health food stores.

I believe our first pickup will be next Wednesday. I don't want to give them free advertising yet, but if the produce meets expectations, I will post more about the farm itself at a later time.

Is anyone else a member of a CSA group? Care to share your experiences?

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6 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Harmony

    This is how the numbers work:

    I won't lie: the CSA is expensive (for us). It takes up a bit more than half of our weekly grocery budget. If it turns out that we don't get enough vegetables and fruits each week, we may be in trouble. But judging from the pictures (we'll get about half of what's in the pictures), it should be plenty.

    Because we have cut back on our consumption of milk, and if we cut back slightly on our consumption of 'extras' (read: ice cream, natural potato chips, etc), we shouldn't go over budget. Depending on how things go, we might also have to slightly cut back on meat consumption as well, but that shouldn't be dramatic - at least not at fist, as we have plenty of meat in our freezers.

    This will certainly force us to eat a lot more fruits and to eat a greater variety of vegetables.
    If I'm on top of things and make bread like I ought, our meals should be veritable feasts. :-)

  • Sammy

    I've done a CSA for several years now and I love it! Perhaps they're different in different parts of the country, but I think it's a great way to get organic, local produce, which is all we eat as well. And I agree with you--organic produce at the supermarket is quite expensive!

    I was also worried about being a "slave to the seasons" but I actually found that it was good for us. My husband and I have a tendency to eat the same 4 or 5 vegetables over and over and joining the CSA has forced us to branch out and learn new recipes and try new things.

    The only problems we've dealt with is having too much in one box. We've thought of splitting a box with another couple, but haven't actually done that. But sometimes we'll get a huge box of, let's say spinach, and by the end of the week we never want to see spinach again!

    But all in all, we really like it. We love to suport local agriculture and we know that it's better for us health-wise.

    Good luck to you two with this! :-) Keep us posted!

    --Samantha (your token lefty!) :-)

  • RMyers

    Pretty interesting food for thought (pun intended!)

    Thanks for sharing!


  • Thehotrod5

    I am SO JEALOUS! We FINALLY had a CSA come to our neck of the woods but being as they were just getting started they were only taking on 30 families. By the time we called (which was the same day as the advertisement was put out) they had already accepted their 30 families! We are currently looking for a raw milk source...so that (for us) is more important right now anyway *sigh* but at this point I would take about anything I can get!


  • Sara

    I'm impressed you were able to join so quickly! I've been told to call back in JANUARY to get on the list for the Spring 2009 CSA in our neck of the woods. I guess we'll have to be content with our tiny tomato plants on our balconey!

  • Ginny

    That sounds nifty! I hope it works out for you. People have suggested that I start a CSA, but I don't think I have the personality for it and I don't have the energy right now, either.