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    Hire Yourself a Farmer

    It’s not too early in the year to think about joining a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture organization. When you join a CSA, you are subscribing to receive a share of a farm’s (or a group of farms’) crops for a specific period of time.

    What’s the point? The best source for discovering a CSA near you, Local Harvest, lists advantages for you and for the farmer:

    Advantages for farmers:

    • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
    • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
    • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

    Advantages for consumers:

    • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
    • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
    • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
    • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
    • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

    It’s one of those things in life that truly is a win-win.

    My family’s experience has included that sense of relationship with the farmer, the farm, and the other CSA members. Our farmer opens the season with a potluck picnic at the farm in June. He gives a tour of the fields, and talks about the some of the challenges involved in growing each one. It gives us a first-hand perspective on how too much rain or just the right amount of sun affects the yield, and how much love and work it takes to keep a farm going. We always leave with a bit of insight into a way of life on which we depend, but about which we have little clue.

    A CSA is a happy place. Our weekly CSA pick-up feels a lot like trick or treating: we go from bin to bin and select a variety of vegetables from that week’s offering. Invariably, we leave feeling inspired about what we’ll be cooking during the coming week.

    In a good CSA, you get far more than the obvious veggies. Ours delivers an incredible variety of produce, especially as the summer turns into fall. Inevitably we end up looking for recipes to cook something we’ve never had before.

    Most CSA farms are organic or transitioning to organic. The CSA we’ve subscribed to is a farm that follows organic practices, but can’t be certified organic because a neighboring farm grows GMO crops.

    The most serious problem We’ve experienced: at the height of the season, we get more produce than we can possibly eat. That’s an easy one if you have friends or neighbors. Local Harvest’s website points out other possible issues – most of them a result of misplaced expectations.

    Take a look. You won’t believe how much fun you can have with your veggies.

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