As most of you know, I have teamed up with Roots and Shoots Farm for this season’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Throughout the season, I will post updates about what we receive, recipe suggestions, and tips and tricks to get the most out of your CSA. To find a CSA in your area, simply search the Internet for “CSA” + your city.
Subscribing to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a fantastic option to access local produce as well as supporting small farms. But, it can have its challenges.
This article will help address these challenges and provide strategies to make the most out of your CSA season.
If you signed up to a local CSA thinking that you won’t need to buy produce from the grocery store for the rest of the summer, that is unrealistic. Yes, you will still need to buy produce, just not as much of it.
Here are the top considerations to keep in mind as you wait for your subscription to start:
- You never know what you are going to get. Even though some CSAs will send out newsletters letting you know what to expect, others may not. Flexibility is the key here. Enjoy the surprise and spontaneity.
- You may get more or less than you expect. This depends on things at the farm level, including weather.
- Finding that you are getting the same things week after week. Yup, this happens a lot. That’s because certain crops grow well and consistently.
- Opening the box to see unrecognisable items. I can almost guarantee this will happen. This is because most smaller farms do not grow the same crops all the time. They rotate them and introduce different produce into the mix. Exploring new produce is a good thing though.
- There is always a chance that you will receive something you hate eating. This is a great opportunity to swap with others or give the gift of produce to someone you know. Some CSAs will even have a “swap bin” where you can exchange something you do not like for something you know you will love.
- The first few deliveries may be sparse. The beginning of the season can be a little lack lustre. This really depends on the spring weather and the fact that the crops are just starting out. Deliveries will get bigger as the season progresses.
If you are fine with these points, you will thoroughly enjoy receiving your CSA deliveries.
To get the most out of your deliveries, follow these tips:
Be Prepared at Pick-Up
If you go to a designated location to pick up your delivery:
- Bring your own bags or bins. Many CSAs do not provide bags or boxes.
- Try to pick up your CSA on your way home. The summer heat is brutal on fresh veggies.
- Bring a cooler if needed to protect them from the heat.
- If your CSA does provide your produce in a pre-packed box or bag, take some time to go through it before you leave. This will give you a chance to ask the delivery person (if there) any questions. Many CSAs have an employee posted at the delivery site and they can answer your questions. If you do not recognize an item, ask right away for its name and any suggestions for its use.
Share Share Share
For those times when you find an item that you already know you hate, don’t despair, there are plenty of options.
- Some CSAs will allow you to swap or substitute produce at the site pick-up location.
- Some CSAs provide a box that you can just place produce in that you do not want. Others can then dip in if there is something they really like.
- Talk to family, friends or neighbours. You can share your box or swap with those who also have a CSA or a garden.
Too Many Greens, Too Few Veggies
Ah, this will definitely happen. You are eyeing your 3 bundles of greens and your 1 tiny zucchini. Now what?
- Greens will be a big part of your deliveries, especially in the beginning. This is your chance to think outside of the box. Don’t just think salad. Consider:
- Grill heads of lettuce
- Sauté greens with herbs and lemon
- Blanch greens and freeze them to use later
- Greens make great wraps
- Cook greens down and add to soups or stews
- Add greens to smoothies
- When you receive a very small amount of an item, consider using them as a garnish instead of a side dish. Consider:
- Toppings for pizza
- Adding to coleslaw
- Adding to salads
- Adding to a stir-fry
Choose What to Eat First
Once you receive your delivery, it is a good idea to prioritize when to eat everything. A good strategy is to:
- Eat the most delicate items first – think fragile greens.
- Eat hardier root vegetables later since they have a longer shelf life.
- If you like to plan your meals in advance, consider declaring pick up day “Grab Bag Dinner” day. Look through the box and make a spontaneous meal using some items in the box.
We hope that these tips and strategies help you make the most of your season and that you thoroughly enjoy your CSA. We would love to hear any additional tips you may have.