Over the last few years, farm shares, or CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), have become very popular and are now pretty easy to find. They’re kind of a hip thing to do now – for good reasons! My boyfriend and I joined our first farm share 3 years ago and wondered why it took us so long to do it. Since then, we have even joined off-season shares and can’t see ourselves not doing a CSA in the future.
A quick explanation of what a farm share is. Basically, the way a farm share or CSA works is that you pay a fee to join. That fee supports the farm and you receive shares of the crops they grow throughout the growing season. For some CSAs, members go right to the farm to pick up their shares weekly. For others, you can choose from several convenient pickup locations, and for others still, there may be home delivery options. So, why should you buy a farm share?
It is really, really hard to be a farmer in New England.
With the short growing season, the wildly variable weather, the high cost of living, and other factors, it is really hard farming in New England. CSAs are a great way to support local farmers and help them make a living.
You’ll get to try new produce
Many of the fruits and vegetables you’ll receive as part of your farm share you simply can’t find in the grocery store so they’re a great way to get some more variety into your diet. Not sure what something is or how to use it? Ask your farmer or a fellow CSA member! They are usually thrilled to share information and recipes.
You’ll waste less
Some of what you’ll get as part of your farm share are parts of the plants that aren’t sold in stores or are overlooked in stores, like broccoli leaves and beet greens. These are perfectly edible and delicious but are discarded most of the time.
You might spend less
Depending on where you do your grocery shopping, you will most likely find that a farm share costs you less for produce than you’d spend at the store.
You could make new friends
Many CSAs have their own little community of sorts – meeting people at the pick-up points, connecting in Facebook groups, getting together for meetings or events. They can be a great way to meet new people, learn something new, and swap recipes.
The produce is fresher and more nutritious than what you’d get at the grocery store
The produce you buy at the grocery store is, by and large, picked before it is fully ripe and then shipped hundreds or thousands of miles to make it to your store. Because of this, these fruits and veggies have not developed as much nutrition as ripe plants and then many of their nutrients are destroyed in transit and processing. Produce from CSAs is typically picked that morning or the day before and is picked at its ripe point. It also suffers less nutrient destruction because it’s not being processed and shipped miles and miles to get to you.
You know where your food comes from and how it was grown
Wait. Was this romaine grown in Arizona? No mysteries with a CSA. You know exactly how and where your food was grown and harvested.
It’s more eco-friendly
Getting your produce locally means there is less of a toll on the environment from transporting and refrigerating produce over long distances. Small, independent farms are also more responsible for the land they use than factory farms by using less pesticides and cycling the land.
Now is the time to sign up for a local farm share and make sure that you’re getting loads of beautiful, fresh fruits and veggies during the warmer months this year, so what are you waiting for?