Down on the Farm

Related to the last entry, my vegetarian diet has been helped greatly by joining a CSA this year. A CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – allows you to buy a share of a local farm and reap the benefits of the harvest. Your part of the harvest depends on the weather and deer, just like the farmer.

A sampling of a CSA haul

I looked into CSAs last summer after hitting the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market on a regular basis. Some of the vendors had pickup areas for members.

I placed myself on the waiting list for the Sankanac CSA because they offered flowers as well as vegetables and fruit. I found out I made the real list this spring and arranged to split a full share with my friend Nicole.

Because you pay for your season’s share upfront, the cost can seem daunting, but it’s worked out to about $15-$20/week for each of us.

That sounds like a lot for weekly vegetables, but I challenge you to go to your grocery store and not spend more than that on the following:

  • 1 piece celeriac
  • 5 lbs. red potatoes
  • 6 yellow onions
  • 7 zucchini
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 lb. 8 oz. picklers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 7 bell peppers
  • 7 lb. tomatoes
  • 1 lb. salad mix
  • 4 oz. parsley

That was our full share on a recent week. Could you even find all of that at your grocery store? And that list didn’t include what we could get from the u-pick fields. Cherry and paste tomatoes, flowers, peppers, herbs, blackberries.

Do I use it all? No. I should, and I need to be better about that. Or buy a compost bin instead of throwing out questionable vegetables.

My friends Chris and Cynth belong to a different CSA. From all reports, they’ve managed to eat or put up their weekly haul. I really must get better at eating mine.

A week at the work farmers market

Nicole and I have taken to bringing extra to work to spread the locally grown wealth. Each week, Lael from the CSA seems to send out an email encouraging members to take their full shares, check the extras bin and come back on Wednesday and Saturday mornings for more extras. We’re trying to do our part. The counter by Nicole’s desk becomes a miniature farmers’ market every Wednesday morning. This helps me only keep vegetables I have a chance of eating. That and advice from How to Pick a Peach (Now $1.95 from Powell’s).

The book has great advice on how to store vegetables, how to pick fresh ones out of the bin and a simple way to prepare each one. Plus it has more recipes. Pick it up for yourselves.

I’ve turned some of CSA bounty into pasta salads and grilled cole slaws. I discovered a love of cucumber sandwiches with Thousand Island dressing. I tried cooking chard and wasn’t impressed with my first attempt, but need to find a different recipe to try one week. Chard never seems to be out of season.

Homemade pickles

I did make pickles though out of the pickling cucumbers. Picklers are regular cucumbers but with thinner rinds so the pickling juice soaks in better. I’m not necessarily a fan of pickles, but I’ve been told the ones I made were tasty.

I never got around to trying kale. And I could do more with zucchini and squash besides add it to salads.

I did try turnips for the first time. Roasted with nonCSA carrots, they were quite tasty. Carrots have made brief appearances at the CSA, but no more turnips. I suppose it’s what I deserve for never getting around to the beets. They withered in the refrigerator. I couldn’t figure out what to do with them – which may be code for lacking the courage to try something I think I don’t like.

Of course, I’ve been pretty sure I don’t like beets since I was around 8 years old. My taste buds have changed since then, and the beets I didn’t like then were from a can.

I have no such excuse for never tasting kohlrabi. That just baffled me and was only available for a couple of weeks. Maybe next season.

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4 thoughts on “Down on the Farm

  1. Kale and Collards are Awesome! Wash them thoroughly (whichever you chose) and de-stem. Chop up into easily manageable pieces. Throw in a large skillet on low and let wilt down. Throw some sea salt and parmesan cheese on top-toss and enjoy!

  2. Even if I could get all of that at the store it would not be as fresh or local.
    As for compost… We have been composting for 3 years now. Let me know if you want some easy tips.

    1. I’ll probably hit you for tips the next time we see each other. I also need to figure out what I’d do with the compost, which means getting the yard in shape. It’s a dangerous cascade of events.

      1. Don’t worry. I have yet to use mine for much more than potting soil. One day though I will be able to layer my yard composted goodness.

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