February flew by quickly and now it's hard to believe we're nearly half way through March! Our major tasks of crop planning and seed orders have been done and the seeds have arrived in the mail. It definitely seems like Christmas time when all the seed packets start pouring in!
This week, our sunroom was cleaned and organized, the heat turned on, and I started sowing the first seeds. So far I have sown onions (yellow storage, red, white, and green onions) and leeks. Later this week I will be sowing celery, celeriac, and shallots. Both celeriac and shallots are new crops for us and I am excited to see how they do. One area that I am focusing on improving this year is the planting of more winter storage crops. An important part of growing the food we do is to be able to store as much as possible for personal use in the winter months. We'd love to get our winter vegetable purchases to down to nearly zero. Celeriac is a versatile root crop that stores very well so we thought we'd give it a try. And share members will be able to try it as well near the end of the season.
As the weather starts to warm up, people start thinking about choosing a CSA so I thought I would share some reasons why I think CSA's are great! For existing share members, please share this post with anyone you think may be interested in local, sustainably grown food. And remember, share members receive a $20 for every new share member they refer to our CSA. We have sold nearly 40% of our 65 available shares already so don't delay in reserving a share.
So why choose to purchase a CSA share? Here are my reasons:
1. Delicious and Fresh Food
The primary reason people choose to support a CSA is that they will receive delicious food that is a fresh as it gets. Unlike food found in grocery stores, the produce provided in a CSA is in a share member's kitchen within 24 hours of harvest. This means crisp, juicy lettuce that will last nearly a week in the fridge and tomatoes so fragrant and flavourful because they were able to ripen on the vine. Since CSA shares are delivered locally, farmers can choose varieties based on flavour rather than on shipping hardiness.
2. Support a Local Farmer
In a time of globalization, it is nice to be able to purchase food directly from the person who grew it. Not only does your support of the local farmer funnel resources back into the local economy, but it allows share members an intimate relationship with the farmer. Share members will be able to visit the farm, ask questions directly, and learn about the farmer's family and life beyond farming. One of the key principles of a CSA is paying for the share in advance of the season. The reason for this is that the majority of expenses for the farmer occur in the months January - May. As a rough calculation, I figured that 85% of our expenses occur in these months. By paying in advance, share members ensure that their farmer is able to produce delicious food.
3. Greater Appreciation of the Seasonality of Food
While CSA members are an informed and conscientious lot, many are surprised by seasonal availability of certain crops. Did you know that tomatoes are rarely ripe before August in our growing zone? Or that peas only last for a couple week? Many share members find it eye-opening to see exactly when certain crops are available. And when those fleeting crops are in season, share members savour them even more.
4. Exposure to New Vegetables
While CSA programs will always include lots of the familiar vegetables like carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, and beans, they will also include less familiar vegetables. Vegetables like baby asian turnips, patty pan squash, heirloom tomatoes varieties, garlic scapes, and watermelon radishes are all common in CSAs. We provide a weekly newsletter with recipe ideas for those unusual vegetables and share members enjoy the opportunity to experiment with new dishes.
5. Voting with Your Wallet
By purchasing a share, members are voting for sustainability and transparency in our food system. We purchase only organic seeds and inputs, do much of our labour using human power rather than fossil fuel power, treat interns fairly and compassionately, and raise animals humanely. As more people support CSA farmers, we will be clearly demonstrating to governments and decision makers that regenerative and organic agriculture is essential.
We love growing delicious food and take pride in providing quality produce to share members. We are really excited for the 2015 growing season and can't wait to see new and returning share members at our first CSA pickup in mid-June!