Our First Experience With Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

CSA share

one of our weekly shares

This week we ate the last of the arugula, potatoes and Swiss chard from our local CSA .   Community Supported Agriculture offers the opportunity for members of a community to buy a share of what is grown at a local farm.  Since this was our first time, we paid for half a share, which means we picked up produce every other week from our local CSA .  We began picking up in June and enjoyed healthy, locally grown produce until mid October.  This was an experiment for us as first timers.  We wondered what kinds of produce we would get each week and if we would be able to eat it all without wasting.  The conclusion was that this was definitely a worthwhile investment.

garlic scapes

garlic scapes

Early in June, we started to discover foods we had never heard of, much less eaten.  The first discovery was garlic scapes.  These are the shoots you see growing out of a bulb of garlic.  We got a huge amount of these early in the summer.  My husband turned most of them into garlic scape pesto which we added to everything from pasta to grilled cheese sandwiches.  It had a fresh taste and was the perfect way to start enjoying the flavors of summer.

The discoveries kept coming all summer as we discovered foods we had never tried and learned to easily and deliciously prepare.  We began snacking on salted raw radish slices and discovered that beets and turnips were nutrition rich foods that we could enjoy.  I was amazed to find that we could also eat the turnip and beet greens, something I probably never would have known had I not been given the tip by the couple who owns our CSA.

broccoli rabe

broccoli rabe

Some of our favorite recipes this summer were this one for bok choy and this one for Swiss chard.  We found this recipe for broccoli rabe which was delicious early in the summer, but did not fare as well in late summer when the leaves were very bitter.

When we weren’t sure what to do with something in our CSA share, we sauteed it in fresh garlic and olive oil and were always happy with the results.  If you love garlic and healthy eating, you can’t go wrong joining a CSA.  If you are worried about offending your friends and family with your ever present garlic aroma, perhaps it isn’t for you!

I would say the only drawback of our CSA experience is that sadly, our children hardly ate any of the goodness we were enjoying.  We are not strict healthy eaters and definitely enjoy the not so healthy, but oh so tasty treat more often than we should.  But, we do try to buy and eat healthy food the majority of the time.

We talk to our kids about healthy food and they are well aware that the healthiest food comes directly from the earth.  However, this knowledge did not motivate our picky eaters to eat much of our CSA share!  Two out of three children did eat pea shoots and sunflower shoots, which thrilled us. Even though the kids did not eat all the food from the share, it was still an educational experience for them. They were able to see where real food comes from and to understand the health benefits of eating healthy food.  They observed us eating the food and tried some of it themselves.

Eating locally grown food is healthier for you and for the environment.  Joining a CSA can be educational for you and your children.  It was a great experience to drive to the farm and have the children observe the food we were going to eat growing right out of the ground.  I loved being a shareholder at our CSA and can’t wait until next summer!

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