What is Community Supported Agriculture? - Our Daily Green

Monday, June 8, 2015

What is Community Supported Agriculture?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is actually an idea that has been around the United States since the mid-1980s. As the local food movement grows, more and more folks are looking for ways to eat seasonal, local vegetables and fruits. Yet only 2% of the population actively farms. While Our Daily Green has a small garden with some of our favorite vegetables and herbs, we lack the space and time to grow all our own food. This is where CSAs come in. From the USDA publication library:

In basic terms, CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community's farm... Typically, members or "share-holders" of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer's salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season... Members also share in the risks of farming, including poor harvests due to unfavorable weather or pests. By direct sales to community members, who have provided the farmer with working capital in advance, growers receive better prices for their crops, gain some financial security, and are relieved of much of the burden of marketing.

This is the first year Our Daily Green has joined our local CSA and we've recently received our first week's share. In the past we would haphazardly find farm markets, pick and choose a handful of items but rarely try anything new or different. We spent the weekend searching for recipes and realized that this would make a great weekly feature, how we used our share. This summer, each Monday, be sure to check out Our Daily Green for recipes from our produce share and share any ideas of your own.

In the future, we will feature step by step photographs. Since the idea came this week as we were washing our last dish, you'll have to imagine how delicious everything looked.

Here are the foods that came in this week's share and how we have used it so far:

  • Swiss Chard: Swiss Chard & Feta Tart from Jamie Oliver's recipes.  
  • Green Leaf Lettuce: Wilted lettuce with bacon & onion dressing 
  • Strawberries: just washed and devoured-- SO delicious this time of year -- heading back to same farm for Pick My Own later this week to make jam & strawberry ice cream 
  • Lettuce Mix: fresh salad
  • Bok Choy: stir fried with teriyaki, onion, and wasabi.       
  • Asparagus: haven't used it yet, but love asparagus on the grill, broiled or in a quiche 
  • Scapes (583373543)
    Garlic Scapes courtesy of:
    Dwight Sipler from Stow, MA, USA via Wikimedia Commons
  • Hinona Kabu Turnip: never had seen or heard of these before, but they are an heirloom vegetable. As you know, I used the greens in my pesto, but the turnips tasted something like a very mild radish and cabbage. Reminded me somewhat of kohlrabi. I decided to experiment with lacto-fermentation (which worked beautifully for my pickles last summer). Will let you know in a few weeks how this went.  
  • Garlic Scapes: Originally thought to make pesto but only received 4 scapes, which would make about a tablespoon... then I glanced at the fluffy green turnip tops and VOILA! our pesto was saved. We'd made pesto with radish tops before. Pesto actually will work with any most leafy greens. Don't let them go to waste. Turnip green & garlic scape pesto, with olive oil, pine nuts, a pinch of salt, and Parmesan cheese. Whirl in a food processor and enjoy over pasta or served on crusty bread. 
Stay tuned every Monday for our CSA report. If you want to join a CSA in your community, just search Local Harvest by zipcode for the one nearest you.

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