We joined a CSA at a local farm recently and have been enjoying our super-fresh, peak of season produce. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It’s basically a subscription to produce – just like paying a subscription fee and getting a magazine every month, we paid a subscription fee and get fresh produce every week for 6 months.
The farm is a family-owned farm and they were nice enough to invite us for a farm tour the other day. We got a look at where our food comes from, and it was a great learning experience for us and the kids. It was a beautiful day to be out in farmland too.
The first time we joined a CSA several years ago we were concerned about getting vegetables we didn’t want or know about. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we had veggies that we HAD to eat. We figured out what to do with them, getting some help from the magazine Everyday Food which always had recipes involving in-season produce. We had shorter trips to the grocery store too, and spent less money overall. We learned about some great veggies, learned some new recipes and we’ve been firm believers in CSAs since.
As you can see, all J needs is a fresh string bean to make her happy. This girl is really into fresh food, much more so than M. She’ll run to the table if we tell her broccoli is on the menu. M likes veggies too, just not to the same extent as J. She seems perfectly happy with fresh, whole foods (though all bets are off if a bag of potato chips materialize).
What we noticed immediately about the farm was the dirt – it was DARK. Adina, our host and guide, explained that ages ago their farm had been at the bottom of a lake (we were surrounded by mountains in all distances). All sorts of material decomposed to create the beautiful, black dirt. They also find fossils and arrowheads periodically – how cool is that?!
Here we are with Adina, standing in one of the roads the tractors take. To the left is corn ready for harvesting. We got to pick some and eat it right there – and it was SWEET. We learned last summer that corn starts losing sugars the second it gets picked, so there’s nothing better than freshly picked corn. J chowed down on 2 ears immediately.
We were then joined by Adina’s MIL Doris, who moved to the farm after marrying Frank (whose father started the farm in 1939). She is a gregarious woman whose love for the farm is utterly infectious. She also said that the baby corn they had was not the same species that is commonly used for Asian cuisine but that it tasted just as good. Trish can confirm that was true.
Another interesting fact was that they had several plantings of corn, all at different stages of growth. This allowed them to have a supply of corn to sell throughout the summer. I’ve always had this idea that people plant One Big Crop resulting in One Big Harvest when people work night and day to harvest the crop. I only know of farms through books or the media, so while it may be true for a monoculture farm, it’s not the case here.
Food we’ve gotten so far includes green beans, corn, popcorn, a variety of lettuce, arugula,tatsoi, bok choi, swiss chard, potatoes, beets. carrots, radishes, white turnips, garlic & garlic scapes (the garlic greens, which can be easily substituted for garlic), shallots and their greens, shell & sugar snap peas, spinach and kirby cucumbers.
We also got a sneak preview of what to look forward to, the highlights being heirloom tomatoes and artichokes.
Touring the farm was great for us and the kids and it does inspire us to farm. I don’t think I want to make a living at farming, but I’d love to grow the food we eat.
Here are our upcoming heirloom tomatoes, with a field of beautiful black dirt. You can see a tractor way in the back. On a windy day, the bamboo stakes whistle sweetly.
A field of onions. (I think)
M running next to the Field of Onions. You can see a couple of other crop in the distance, as well as the mountains. The bushy stuff to the left of the track is basil. It smelled wonderful, and we picked some to use for dinner that night.
Two crops of corn – the one on the right with the pollen is almost ready, the next batch after the ones we got to pick earlier. Doris told us that each hair in an ear goes to exactly one kernel. I’d never paid attention to that before. Corn can also self-pollinate, which must make it a relatively easy crop to grow.
Ah dirt. Every child should have the opportunity to wallow in it.
Behold a baby radish!
J didn’t have the same energy as M, who ran a LOT.
My hot patootie 🙂