CSA: A Season in Review

Posted by Brette in Food | Gardening

One of my U-pick bouquets this summer

We signed up for a CSA for the first time this year. The idea is you buy a “share” from the farmer and then each week you go and pick up your portion of that week’s harvest. I was lucky enough to find Root Down Farm, which is 15 minutes from my house and which grows everything organically. Now that the CSA season is ending, it’s time to evaluate it.

What I Didn’t Expect

Friends who use CSAs talk about what’s in their “CSA box” each week. We didn’t get a box. Instead, we went to a little covered hut and each week there was a white board telling us how much we could take. Usually there was one wall of vegetables and then one wall of greens, and then bins of tomatoes, squash or melons. Most weeks we could mix and match anything we wanted on the veggie wall to fill up a plastic grocery store shopping bag (I know: I’m still not over an organic CSA distributing plastic bags). So although there might be things on that wall I didn’t want (eggplant, hot peppers, kohlrabi), I could fill my bag with anything else, so I appreciated that flexibility.

What I Loved

I loved the freshness of the food. A bag of lettuce greens would last almost two weeks because it was so fresh. My kids were nuts about the carrots. I loved the potatoes. There were some greens I’d never heard of that I really liked: tat soi and vitamin greens.

I liked that this encouraged me to try new things. I always took things that were new to me to try at least once, something I would not do in a grocery store.

Everything tasted better to me because it was organic and it was super fresh. This made everyone more likely to eat it. I’ve never seen my children get excited about vegetables before, and every Monday they would come home and ask what we got at the CSA. There were squabbles over the carrots (who would get to take them in their lunch).

I loved the U-pick part of our CSA, particularly the cutting flowers section. They had a nice selection of herbs in U-pick as well, but I planted an herb garden this year, so I didn’t use those.

I felt as though the price I paid for the share was a good bargain.

What I Didn’t Love

There was some disorganization happening at times. My mom went to pick up my share when we were out of town and although I told the farmer this was happening, my mom still felt as though they were rude to her when she came and looked unfamiliar. There was also a mix-up about a payment that still bothers me.

It was at times hard to keep up with the food that came home. I was drowning in tomatoes and I threw out a lot of greens, which made me feel terrible.

I did not enjoy having to pick my own beans in the U-pick section. I would be happier if those were picked and part of the share.

Somehow I don’t feel as though my weekly grocery bills went down as much as I would have liked and I don’t quite know why that is.

I had to be sure to plan my grocery shopping around the CSA. If there was no lettuce that week and I had just been to the store and didn’t buy lettuce, then there was no salad! But if I bought lettuce at the store then went to the CSA and there was lettuce, I had another problem on my hands.

Will We Join Again?

The answer to that is a resounding yes. I plan to sign up again next year. I also signed up for a winter share, the details of which still has my husband twitching. For $100, we are getting 100 lbs of winter vegetables in one pick up in November, and it will include things like cabbage, squash, pumpkin, carrots (my kids will be happy), potatoes, beets, etc. I’ll post once we pick that up and figure out how the heck we will store it!

So, overall, the CSA experiment was a great success and I highly recommend it to everyone!

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