Have you ever heard of a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA, for short)? Well, I for sure hadn’t.
Nope. Not until a few months ago at my friend’s daughter’s birthday party. Dustin was ranting and complaining discussing his love for fresh okra and how it’s difficult to find out here in California when my friend said, “Oh, we had okra in our CSA this week.” Dustin and I both looked at each other with puzzled looks and repeated, “CSA?” in our best (unintentional) Scooby Doo voice. Yep, that was the moment I learned about the beauty that is the CSA.
Now, I go to my fair share of Farmers Markets. I shop at Henry’s. I usually buy only organic produce, eggs and milk. I grew up in Ojai, for crying out loud! How on earth had I never heard of Community Supported Agriculture programs?? Grr.
In case you have been kept in the dark on this fabulous gem as well, a CSA is an arrangement between a community of consumers (say, San Diego) and a local farm (say, Be Wise Ranch). The consumers purchase a “share” of the upcoming harvest produced on the farm at a rate that is based on the true costs of production. So, a CSA provides the community with farm-fresh, organic produce on a weekly basis while helping to support a local family farm. So. Cool. If you’re interested in learning more about CSA programs, you can check out Be Wise Ranch (my CSA farm) who has been providing only organic produce since 1993.
When the day finally came for my pick-up, I followed the instructions in my email and found the home at which my pick-up point was set. I was told to take the contents of the brown box (not the white box), place them into my own box or bag, initial the sign-in sheet, fold up the brown box and set it to the side. This all seemed very covert, like a secret mission.
When I arrived at the house, I saw several brown and white boxes stacked neatly on the porch. I began to feel awkward (yes, more than usual) as I walked up to this stranger’s house with my reusable grocery bag and Jordan in my arms. I started to open the brown box on top when the creaky screen door opened and a sweet old lady came out to greet me. She looked at my single grocery bag and laughed to herself, saying “Oh, you’re gonna need another bag.” I laughed with her as I started blushing and went to open the box. Oh. my. goodness.
The box was FULL of all sorts of filled paper bags. I saw a cantaloupe and a beautiful bag of sweet basil on top. The lady mentioned I should be careful how I pack the produce because the plums were quite ripe and could get smashed. There were ripe plums?!? Okay. Deep breaths. Don’t get overly excited. It’s just produce, after all.
Well, it took three bags to get all the fruits and vegetables to my car. When I got home, I couldn’t wait to start unpacking each bag to see what wonderful fruit or vegetable would be revealed. There was kale, peaches, plums, carrots, grape and heirloom tomatoes, basil, cantaloupe, eggplant, yellow squash, apples and more.
I kept repeating, “Oh my god, oh my god” over and over again in my head. It was so exciting. Is that weird?
I planned out meals from what was available. We would be having eggplant parmesan, grilled squash and caprese salad for starters. Maybe some bruschetta. I don’t think I had ever been so excited about produce!
First, I ate a plum and then I ate a peach. And then I ate another plum. Heehee. Well, I did share some with Jordan. Watching Jordan eat (more like devour) her fresh, local, organic peach, I recognized what a special thing this was. This is the way food was meant to be. Fresh. Ripe. Healthy. From your community. I suddenly wanted to create a Community Supported Butcher and a Community Supported Dairy Farm. How cool would that be?
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! Happy Labor Day!
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