A Community Supported Agriculture farm (CSA) is a great way to nourish your family and help Oregon farmers prosper. To become a part of a CSA, you purchase a subscription from a farm, and every week you receive a share of the harvest.
What comes in your basket depends both on what type of subscription you get and which farm you get it from. Usually the baskets are brimming with fresh Oregon produce. Canning shares, meat shares and egg shares are other examples of the wide variety of subscriptions you can take part in.
You can also custom pick your basket size depending on your family’s size and their eating habits. Half, regular and large sizes are available. Often, neighbors go in on a full share together and split the produce between them. There are also seasonal shares available, so you can receive baskets during a specific season or all year round.
Because no two CSA farms are alike, you’ll want to find the right fit for your family.
Three things to consider when selecting your CSA are:
1. Do you want just vegetables and fruits, or meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, and other value-added products? Keep in mind some farms may offer many of these food items while others just one. Given the drop off dates and other factors, you may chose to subscribe to more than one CSA to source all the local foods you want.
2. How much food do you want to source for how long during the year? Are you, or do you want to be, an adventurous chef who cooks with lots of different types of seasonal produce year round? Do you just want fresh berries delivered from the farm once a week for 3 months? Think about how you will use the food and how often you want to receive the products. Many farms supply recipes and tips for using the foods, and other CSA members like to share tips and ideas on how they used the delivery.
3. What are the dates and locations for CSA deliveries? Drop off dates and locations vary by farm, so find out when and where the farmer drops off the baskets. Make sure it is it close and convenient enough that you will be able to pick up your basket.
It’s usually best to start small and build from there. At first, sign up for a half share or limit the number of weeks you subscribe for. Once you’ve experience the process and learned tips on how to use the variety of foods, you will have a better sense of what will work for your family in the future.
CSA’s are a wonderful way to get your family’s produce and other food items during part or all of the year. Gain access to delicious, nutritious foods (often of unusual varieties) that were harvested less than 24 hours before you receive them. Your family also gets a direct connection to the people who grew your food and the land where it was grown. Farmers greatly benefit from CSA’s too. Having a direct connection to the families who eat their food is meaningful. Plus, the earlier customers are identified in the year, the better farmers are able to plan their operations and the more likely they are to be successful.
Check out Local Harvest and find the right CSA for you. Don’t hesitate to contact the farmer to ask more questions, they want to hear from you. Some many even schedule a tour date so you can actually see the farm and process in action.