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So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Posted by javaandjazz z6 CT (My Page) on
Mon, Mar 17, 14 at 9:27

A somewhat local farm near me has decided to start a CSA this year and I have decided to join. They have a farm stand also. Do any of you have experiences with joining a CSA? I sometimes never remember to buy local and I figured this will get me to eat more veggies plus hopefully allow me to eat better quality food. Thanks, Richie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Good for you, RIchie! I don't belong to a produce CSA myself, although I'm always keeping an eye out for one. I used to sell at the farmers market so I was there weekly and would buy my produce then. Can I ask where you have your CSA?

I'd love to find a local, organic CSA that has the debit style buying, as opposed to getting a box of veggies that you have no choice in. That's one reason I haven't joined one yet - I dislike too many vegetables to pay for ones I won't eat, lol!

I do belong to a beef CSA, for which I drive up to Litchfield once a month.

Good luck this season, and enjoy your veggies!
:)
Dee


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HI Dee! I'm joining at Clover Nook Farm in Bethany. It's about 10 miles from me through the back roads of Woodbridge and Bethany. Probably the only veggie I won't eat are the cukes(blah) but my sister will so I'll pass them on to her.

Here is a link that might be useful: Clover Nook Farm


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I haven't joined one for the same reason as Dee - DH is picky about his veggies, so we grow our own. My sister's family joined as CSA, and liked that they ate more veggies. They often found themselves doing internet recipe searches to figure out how to use some of the veggies that they weren't experienced with - garlic scapes, unusual greens, etc. I know they've done it at least 2 years, so it must have been a generally positive experience.


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I've tried a CSA twice. The first time, the pick up location wasn't near where we usually are and inconvenient to make a special trip every week. Plus the vegetables we normally eat every week, were in short supply and only in certain weeks. What they offered week in and week out were greens, sometimes unusual greens that we weren't in the habit of eating. Or radishes and turnips that we never eat. And it was expensive and then we would still end up buying other vegetables at the grocery store.

The second time we tried it, it was conveniently located on the way to the food store for pick up. But the organic farm was 40 minutes away from our town and I swear they must have delivered the veggies to the nursery who hosted the pick up, in an unrefrigerated truck so that by the time we got them, greens were wilted, even the broccoli etc, was not in the best shape. And again we still had some issues with the variety of vegetables that we are used to eating, not being a weekly offering. Believe it or not, we only had green beans in the share about 3 weeks last year.

And we tried to eat what we had and not buy more at the grocery store, but…at the end of our time, we decided that is the last time we are doing a CSA, it just didn't work for us. And I am now more determined to grow more of our organic produce. And then I really know what has been put on my food. My standards for organic practices are a lot more stringent than any commercial enterprise I am familiar with.

Another factor that has influenced me to try to work harder at producing more of our own food, is the news about droughts destroying whole crops in different parts of the country and the world, the decline of honeybees, the fact that only 1% of all food imported from China is inspected, fracking which is polluting the water supply of nearby farms and on and on.

Then about a month ago, a news item really got my attention, that I actually read about on a post on GW. There is actually now the existence of a product that is a 'food substitute' called Soylent. The ingredients of Soylent are sugar, rice protein, oat flour, canola oil, fish oil and synthetic chemical nutrients. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that there are people in the world who are considering the fact that we are not always going to have a food supply and they are getting ready for that day. So…I would rather start making the effort to create my own food supply, then end up waiting in line for my ration of Soylent. [g]


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Richie, for two years we belonged to a CSA at a nearby farm. It's very, VERY popular in our area and widely supported. They have two pickup days each week and their parking lot was so crowded that folks had to park across the street in a shopping plaza. Their vegetables were extremely fresh and very good. Plus, we loved supporting a local farm!

But, on the down side, we found some things we did not like and so aren't doing it this year.

It was a feast-or-famine situation. You only get what crops succeed. Like last year the corn crop was destroyed by crows and so we only had corn twice... and once it wasn't very good.

My DH became very tired of all the greens we'd get every week. He would have preferred more traditional vegetables ... more potatoes, carrots, onions, peas or green beans. Instead we had huge quantities of swiss chard, kale, spinach, arugula, varieties of cabbage, kohlrabi, tatsoi, beets, various lettuces, etc. A lot of it spoiled before we could eat it.

For two people it was too much. We'd get heads of cabbage that were 12-14 inches across, huge bunches of bokchoy, piles of radishes. I didn't know what to do with all of it and was constantly hunting for/making up recipes. We were basically eating mostly vegetables all summer long (stir-fried or with beans & rice), which I like. But my DH wanted more "meat & potatoes & one kind of vegetable" meals.

It was expensive. We started with a Full Share...$700 for 20 weeks. Much too much food for us. Last year we went down to a Half Share.... $400 for 20 weeks. Still expensive for what we liked.

And sadly, we ended up still shopping for the vegetables we wanted, just like prairemoon, and that defeated the whole purpose of the baskets.

Of course your experience might be much different than ours. I think it's great to give it a try. Probably if the vegetable variety were greater and the volume was toned down, we'd still be supporting the CSA in our area.

Molie


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  • Posted by corunum CT 6 Central CT (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 17, 14 at 17:04

Hi Ritchie - for what another 2 person household view is worth, I have to agree with Molie and company. We go to the local farmer's markets in several towns around us and buy what we want. For us the math works and nothing is wasted all-the-while we are still supporting local farms. I figure if we spend $25/week for 12 consecutive weeks in the growing season, that's $300 spent on only what we will eat. Yes, I do buy additional veggies at the market and often, if in season in CT, those vegetables are marked that they come from local farms. I want and do support Connecticut Grown. But I don't want to waste Connecticut Grown. The CSA is a lot for 2 people, but if you share with other households, go for it.
Jane


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Thanks everyone, I'm still going to try it at least once. I'm sure I'll be passing some of the veggies off to my family too.


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Richie -

If you've already decided to join, go for it! It's the very
best way to see if the CSA experience suits you, especially since there are so many variables from one CSA to the next.

Personally, I tried it for six years, all with one operation,
but at several different locations as they grew and
expanded. From my experience, the SIZE of the farm
can cut both ways: yes, you tend to have greater variety
and a choice of pick-up days, plus the larger CSA's
(like this one) offered the bonus component of several
pick-your-own crops, like berries, bush beans, okra,
herbs and cut flowers - the negative side was the sheer
size of the crowds, the MASSIVE quantities of crops
that flourished for one reason or another (Can you believe 8 heads of lettuce at a time? For ONE person?),
and the uncomfortable sense that you were supporting
an agribusiness (albeit, organic). At times, the larger crowds became very hostile, just like your most
competitive supermarket heading into a holiday weekend, with everyone vying for the "best" of every box
and basket of vegetables.

Last year, I gave it up; but, I kept a little notebook with me throughout the growing season, and carefully kept
track of all my produce purchases , from local farm
stands (I'm lucky: there are dozens within a 10 mile
radius), or the supermarket, that would have come from my CSA ½ share. Imagine my surprise when I did an
accounting last November, to discover that I had spent
less than half of what my CSA share had cost, plus I got
exactly WHAT I wanted, and could get it whenever it was
convenient for ME, not the CSA!

Over the years, I talked to lots of fellow CSA members,
and, yes, I can see that it might work well for a larger
family, especially, if you were to bring the kids along on
occasion and used it as a learning experience. During my first year, a friend and I split a share, which meant that sometimes we could go together and enjoy a shared experience; or, we could spell each other picking up produce as our schedules allowed - I would heartily recommend splitting a membership to a CSA, since it gives you so much more flexibility.

But these are all just our individual experiences - I still
love the idea of Community Supported Agriculture, but
it's not a great fit for a single person. My exposure to
the CSA movement has inspired me to make a greater
effort to at least grow more of my own food, in addition
to the bumper crops of blackberries, raspberries and
blueberries I currently grow. . .and don't hide behind the excuse that you don't have room! You should see some
of the prolific new blueberry bushes you can grow in
pots, or the spiffy vertical "Plant-Socks" and grow-tubes
that are coming on the market. . .and a lot of these
latter you can build yourself!

Growing on. . .

Carl


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Thanks Carl, I'm splitting it with someone else and then will give some to my family. I don't think this farm is huge and this is the first year they are doing it. I like the idea of bringing my nephew along for some of the pickups just to give him that experience. I'm looking forward to it just to try it. I do have a few blueberry bushes but usually only get enough to make a batch of muffins. Thanks!


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Carl, I'm trying to expand into fruit more. I wonder what your experiences have been with growing fruit and how long you've been doing it? I have shied away from fruit trees thinking they might require spraying, but I get the impression, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries might be manageable.

Have you done any vertical growing? We're building new vegetable beds this spring and I'm planning to add some vertical supports too.

Don't mean to hijack your thread, Richie, I can move it to a new thread, if it goes any further.


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Before we bash too many CSAs for the share size, keep in mind that many CSAs offer "single-person" shares. CSAs vary as much as the farmers who offer them!

I actually was just working today on a listing of local CSAs as part of my job, and some CSAs consider a "full share" as enough for 4-5 people, while others consider it as enough for 2-3. Others, as I mentioned, offered shares for single folks, some offer a debit-style system, where you pay your share, and then shop at their farm stand as often as you like during the season; you could buy a head of lettuce, if that's all you need one week, or 50 pounds of lettuce, if that's what you need, until you exhaust your share. And some offer other products - jams, fruits, honey, eggs, flowers, baked goods - the variety of systems out there offers some good choices.

As far as getting more of whatever crop is successful, well, that's kind of how it was for the history of mankind until supermarkets came around, lol. If you had a bumper crop of beans, you ate beans in every manner imaginable till they came out your ears. If your corn crop failed, well, no corn for you!

That's one reason behind the whole idea of a CSA - to give farmers upfront the capital they need to grow their crops, and to give them some insurance that the crops that are successful will be profitable, while protecting against loss from the crops that are not.

Don't mean to sound preachy - hope I don't! - and certainly don't mean to chide those who said it didn't work for them. I just don't want anyone to be discouraged from looking around, finding a good fit, and supporting their local farmers. If we all supported local farms, and these farms throve and succeeded, that in itself would help protect against some of the things that PM2 mentioned, - drought, etc. It's the huge, corporate-controlled mono-culture farms spraying tons of chemicals that are causing widespread environmental damage, while smaller, organic, sustainably-run farms are actually protecting and restoring the environment.

Down off the soapbox. :) Kind of a dangerous place for me to be since I don't even belong to a veggie CSA myself, lol. But I do belong to a beef CSA!! (just throwing that in there as a form of self-defense, lol!)

:)
Dee


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

I tried to join the one in Cheshire last year but it sold out quickly. Ideally, I'd love to do a work share and bring my kids (10 and 12). Teach them about farming plus what it's like to do real work.

What ended up happening was my coworker started bringing me the stuff they couldn't eat from their share (different farm). so it was the rejects and oh no not again stuff. Mostly kale, kohlrabi, etc. It was still awesome. I ate a ton of greens that normally I wouldn't have, learned to cook all different things, tried veggies I'd never had. And it was free so that helped...

This year I haven't done anything again, just because it is really hectic around here right now. Maybe next year. The biggest problem for me, like everyone else, is that I am the one who eats 90% of the vegetables around here. The other 10% is a one year old. I just don't have time to cook food that no one but me is eating. That said, I still want to try it again sometime.


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Ok, a few hours later and I'm seriously considering joining the same CSA as Richie. I'd do the debit program. The only thing holding me back is it's not an organic farm and usually we eat mostly organic vegetables...hmmm.


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I was all set to join one run by a local farm -- they post videos each week and the stuff looks GORGEOUS! They even provide recipes... BUT, the "slight price increase" over last year's half share price (they have half and whole shares) turned out to be almost DOUBLE. So since we already grow the tomatoes ourselves, it just didn't make sense. I'm going to try Carl's trick this summer and keep track of what I spend at farmer's markets (and of course, on plants for the garden, which can add up unless you start from seed!) and see where I come out. There is something really appealing about just swinging by a spot in town every week to pick up a load of gorgeous seasonal stuff... but I know lots of people who still give half away, because they either don't like a week's offerings or they don't have time to research recipes.

Still... I hope to try it one year. I should crunch some numbers first, though... certainly at the fairly steep prices he's now asking. I'm curious as to what average prices for "half shares" around the state are. The farm here in town wants almost $500 for a half share, $1000 for a full share... do I really spend that much on locally sourced veggies over the summer?? Maybe I do! I just don't know...


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Sienna, For some reason I'm not that concerned that it's not organic. Marty, that's a lot for a half and full share. Some of the others I looked at were $800 for a full share. This one being $500 is more managable.


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Wow, Marty... that is expensive!

The one we used in the past just changed their fee schedule, actually reduced it down for 2014. They now charge $560 for Large Share (4-6 adults); $400 for Medium Share (2-4 adults) and $240 for Single Share (1-2 adults). They offer a choice of 3 pick-up days each week for 16 weeks. The owners are very good with customer relations. So I'm guessing they responded to concerns from last year about the cost vs the kinds of vegetables you get.

As for the issue of organic vs. non organic.... I've discussed this with the owner of the farm. This is a 30 acre, family-run farm that's been in operation since 1639! It's a lot of work for very few people. They don't/can't do organic farming. But the quality of their foods is wonderful and support for this farm runs far and deep in their community and in surrounding ones. Even though we no longer do a farm share basket, we'll continue to shop here for produce. perennials and annuals.

Molie


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Yep, I thought it was steep, too... and I noticed he's still advertising for share signups so I wonder if he's pushed the envelope too much and not getting takers (I think he sold out way before this in the past). It was a stretch even at the old price given we grow some stuff ourselves, but I was willing to do it to support the farmer and have the organic (he's strictly organic) varieties I can't grow. BUT, when his "slight price increase" turned into just shy of double the old price, I decided against it. I'll be curious to see how he does at his new rates -- I guess he only needs half as many subscribers?? ;) But I was disappointed. Their produce is beautiful (as it should be for those prices!)


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Just checked the current season's prices at my former
CSA (a very large operation with three separate farms)
and they are $800. for a full share, or $432. for a half
share. Responding to member feed-back, I'm sure, they
are offering a NEW share level, a mini-share at $260.,
designed for a single individual. . .wish they had that
when I was a member! Still, with the extra vegetables
and fruit I'm growing myself this year, plus an organic
farm stand available once a week in Princeton, and all
the other choices I have, it looks like I should be fine
this year.

Incidentally, I am spoiled rotten since my incredible
supermarket, Wegman's, carries a full line of organic
fruits and vegetables YEAR ROUND ! For those of you
unfamiliar with Wegman's, an upper New York State
based market, there is only one that I know of in New
England, somewhere near Northampton. . .it's actually
worth a day trip, especially to eat in their balcony cafe.

Carl


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Marty, Can I be nosy and ask which farm that is? Carl, the Wegman's are near Worcester and Boston. I've only been in them once and have always wanted to go back.


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Wegmans is very nice, my parents live near the one in Scranton. I'm surprised there isn't one here yet.

I sent a message on facebook to the Clover Nook Farm asking some questions and I have more info. The credit share, which I think is what we will do, is $200 for the smallest and it gives you $215 worth of your pick of whatever is at the farm stand during normal hours.

They minimize use of chemical pesticides as much as possible from how she/he explained it to me. When they are necessary, they spray long before harvest so that the actual food is not being sprayed. The example she gave was spraying the baby eggplant plant before the eggplants have grown. They use their judgement and do it on a case by case basis. They don't spray kale and chard, which I asked specifically because I have grown those and know they usually don't need it, and we eat a lot of them so it's important to me. "We" meaning me and the one year old. ha.

Anyway. He/she was very nice answering my questions, and I also found out that a good friend of mine knows them. She runs a greyhound adoption program down the road. She is in her 60s and lives alone. (Not counting the 12 or so greyhounds and some ducks.) They have helped her out many times that I can recall in the past. Good people.

Ok, I'm ready for gardens and vegetables...come on spring!


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Marty, can I ask how many weeks a full share is for at the farm you mentioned? (the full share for $1000, that is).

Dee


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Richie, I love the guy who runs the farm so I'll send you his name in an email so I don't give him any bad PR here...

Dee, the share is for 18 weeks, and this year they are introducing a "swap table" where you can exchange things you don't like (or can't eat) for something else. They also have a new senior share for $300 for the same 18 weeks. Their produce is utterly spectacular and it really is tempting... but I just couldn't justify the cost. You can also add fresh eggs each week, cut flowers, etc. for an additional fee.


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Gotta say I like this new trend where CSA's are adding
extra products for a separate fee - makes the buyer feel
like they have a little more control. My former CSA has
added organic corn as a new extra, and apparently it
sold out in less than two weeks!

That "swap" doesn't sound too promising, though - isn't
everyone going to try to swap out the dreaded zucchini
and too much lettuce? :>)

Carl


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Carl, I'm guessing it's more for the funky looking "unknowns" ... kohlrabi and other vegetables that people don't really know how to prepare, though I bet a fair bit of zucchini lands there, too. It would be interesting to track the kinds of things people want to "swap" -- should give the farmer some direction for the next year's crops! :) It looks as if they'll be adding fruit, meat, and dairy "add-ons" in addition to the fresh eggs and cut flowers you can now opt for. This particular farm includes their own corn as part of the regular shares (organic because the farm is all organic.)

I really DO want to track what I spend at farmers' markets this summer. It might be that these shares aren't such a bad deal after all! I know we always seem to burn through a bunch of cash in a visit to the farmer's market!


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So Marty, that works out to about $55 per week. Certainly more than I spend on produce in a week, and probably more than most, I would think, so it does seem expensive. But - and this is not just picking on this farmer or especially not singling out you, by any means - one does have to consider fair wages for farmers, etc. I think in general in the US we have gotten used to cheap food - I remember reading that Americans spend less per capita on food than any other country in the world, and part of that is because of industrial, cheap food, but another large part is poor wages paid to farm workers and farmers. So we are used to paying lower (unfair??) prices for the food we eat.

So again, not trying to be righteous, but just trying to see the issue from several angles. I happen to be very interested in and involved in food issues - local food, organic food, sustainable farming, fair trade & fair wages, etc. - and I think in general most Americans pay very little attention to these issues and how they are interconnected.

I've been on both sides - working on a farm, growing and selling (and trying to make money) at a farmers market, and as a consumer trying to get the best value for my money. There is a lot more than meets the eye involved in the price of a tomato!

Just a little "food" for thought.... ;)

Dee


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Actually, those are all really good points, Dee... and I do agree wholeheartedly. What I don't quite know is HOW to factor it in... how much to figure for the food and how much for the labor, farm infrastructure, etc. I agree completely that there is a cost entailed in eating locally produced, fresh products (rather than frozen peas from the Stop and Shop that came from China - ugh!) ... but I do shop at farmer's markets, so I'm supporting local farmers already. My dilemma is the convenience factor: one way I have to drive to a farmer's market each week in the summer, the other way I just drive to the pickup spot and get my box. But I don't know if I WANT everything in the box, and if I go to the farmer's market, I can pick what I want... it may not cost much less, but then again, it might because I'm only buying what I know I can use. It's a dilemma... I LOVE convenience and I like the idea of having a "surprise" bundle and trying to figure out what to cook with it. But I also love browsing through farmers' markets and buying on impulse ... so I think I'm supporting local farmers either way...and I agree that we should! (Though I still remember the first time I went to the farmer's market at Stone Barns in Westchester -- GORGEOUS place, Rockefeller project, Dan Barber's restaurant, etc. -- and I spent nearly $40 for 3 red onions, a bag of arugula, several (REALLY nice) garlic heads and 2 tomatoes. I remember thinking YIKES! Who can afford this???! But Stone Barns is unique...still, we can't expect American families to embrace local agriculture if they can't afford it, so the line between "can't" and "won't" becomes important to define...

Good discussion!


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Hang on, Dee! Paying more money for fresh food at a
farmer's market or CSA in NO way guarantees that the
farm laborers are going to be paid more money. . .it
could just mean the top dog makes more! But seriously,
my focus on locally grown food is more about it's
freshness, and keeping my money circulating nearby.
And, Marty, my solution to the frozen peas from China:
buy American-grown whenever possible. . .in the dead
of winter, when I pick up that scrumptious looking box
of organic blueberries, and see that they are grown in
Chile, I put them back. And if you look in the frozen department at my Wegman's, I know I'll find frozen
blueberries grown in the USA. . .again, I'm lucky, 'cause
my local organic blueberry farm offers huge 10# bags
of their blues, frozen, in late summer/early fall. Last summer I even got to skip that step by PICKING a ton
of blueberries and freezing them myself - couldn't be
easier! Imagine the boost to our economy if everyone
slightly changed their buying habits and only bought American!

Good grief! I'm getting as bad as Dee now, on her
soapbox! This is supposed to be a discussion about
CSA's. . .pardon my digression. :>)

Carl


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I prefer frozen organic berries all winter, because I think they may be fresher, anyway, having been frozen at the location they were harvested right after harvesting. But I would love to find pick your own berries and stock the freezer myself. I'm sure there has to be some not all that far away if I could just remember to look for one before the season was over.

But what vegetables do you eat all winter, Carl, in order to keep buying only American?

I had an email from Yelp in my mailbox this morning announcing a Farm Share Fair going on, Thursday the 20th in Cambridge, if anyone is interested. Here's the link...

Here is a link that might be useful: Farm Share Fair


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  • Posted by corunum CT 6 Central CT (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 19, 14 at 8:31

Well, Ritchie, it certainly isn't a dead thread! I'm not going to add to what could be a good pub discussion because nobody from Hartford OR Washington ever calls me to ask, "What do you think we should do, Jane?"

If interested in what Americans spend on food per capita,(2011) check the link below. And, if anyone wants to find local farms near home, go to:
farmfresh.org and just type in your zip code in the little white box (upper right) which will lead to a list of affiliated local farms near you.

Jane
(nope, phone still not ringing)

Here is a link that might be useful: Economist: What food costs


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Funny, Jane, no one ever calls me either. I don't understand it.... ;)

Carl, I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, and I'm even more sure you were just picking on me - :) - but I feel compelled to defend my honor and intelligence (I will admit to being - and this is a big admission, lol - to being like Otto in "A Fish Called Wanda" !! :)) and so need to point out that when you buy lettuce bagged by a huge corporation it was most likely picked by migrant workers making terrible pay. When you buy a bag of lettuce it was picked by, - and washed and bagged! - by a) the farmer herself/himself; b) their kids or some local kids hired for the summer for minimum wage (better than what migrant workers get) or c) an old lady like me who wishes she owned a farm and works along side the local kids for minimum wage just to get that farm experience. So, yes, paying a higher price at a farmer's market does make a difference when the farmer at said market is a real person and not a corporation. There's not really a "top dog" at family-owned and operated local farms.

Jane, the article you linked to doesn't really give reasons at to the difference in spending, but what caught my eye is the part about having more money to spend on the good things in life (or however they worded it) - and this is my beef with American consumers. They hem and haw about paying for healthy food, and would rather buy cheap, processed, dare I say "fake" food, for pennies so they can have money to buy big-screen tvs and smart phones. IMHO, good food IS one of the good things in life, not to mention one of the things that will keep us healthy.

Sheesh, I'm beginning to trip over all the soapboxes around my desk! ;)

So, at the risk of making everyone jealous, I will say I live a half mile down the road from a pick-your-own blueberry and strawberry farm. I walk down there several times a summer to pick fruit, although not as much now as when my kids were little. Unfortunately they are not organic, but I still support the farm (partly out of selfish reasons, as I would hate to see this beautiful land developed!). My problem is I don't care for frozen fruit. I'm not a smoothie drinker, yogurt eater, cereal lover - I don't eat lots of the stuff one would put mushy frozen fruit in, preferring my fruit straight up, so I stuff myself full of berries (blueberries in particular) in the summer, and the rest of the year do without.

In some ways, that makes the blueberries seem more special. Funny, my husband and I can't get enough of fresh corn or watermelon in the summer. My kids have always groaned - ugh, corn AGAIN??!! - but they obviously have grown up having corn and watermelon available all year, whereas my husband and I grew up when you got it in season and that was pretty much that. So you did stuff your face with it all summer, and NEVER got tired of it, knowing it would be gone soon....

The watermelon however, worries me. Neither of my kids even likes it, which always makes me concerned that they were switched in the nursery when they were born....

Dee


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Dee - we used to have that problem (the groans from kids) with zucchini. Had a virtual mutiny on our hands one winter when we served stuffed zucchini we had frozen... met with cries of FOUL! Zucchini season was OVER. How come there was still zucchini around???! Where did it come from?? How is that even FAIR??!

Re blueberries: we now have 11 bushes (I keep buying more!) and pick our own (literally) but we DO freeze berries because for many of the things we love them in (buckles, pancakes, muffins) the frozen will work. Fresh would be lovely, but not if they're from Chile (agree there!) so our own frozen berries are the next best thing. It doesn't seem to diminish the joy when the first berries ripen in the summer since there is really no comparison. (On a side note: I love that there are more and more dwarf and "patio" cultivars of fruit and vegetable plants coming into the market, so hopefully more and more people can try growing their own -- you don't need acres and acres.)

One of the real problems I think in terms of the local food movement is the dilemma that arises when you are talking not about people like us, but about mothers raising kids in the inner city: they don't have farms nearby, they often don't even have supermarkets, they have corner bodegas. So they are buying what they can find, not even what they can best afford ... sometimes, just what they can FIND. We have to make wholesome, locally grown produce and meat and dairy products AVAILABLE in the cities, available in poor neighborhoods where right now, a bag of Doritos is the easiest way to fill a hungry kid. More urban community gardens, there's lots we can do... but there's no point in trying to teach a 6-year-old from the projects to love the taste of fresh-picked carrots and ask for those for a snack if his mom can't even FIND fresh-picked carrots. Not just can't afford... can't even find. So much we can do...

(I remember asking if they had any "local" plums in a natural food produce market in the New Haven area once... was told the ones he had were "local" and I said "oh, that's great! Where are they from?" thinking one of the big CT farms like Lymans Orchard. His response: "California." When I said er, that's not really local, he said "sure is - they're not imported!" Okay....problem number one: define "local"!)

Must be soapbox season... ;)


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

ctlady, I like your soap box. A very interesting book to read is Farm City - actually, I think I got it from our library's downloadable books program. True story of a couple who turned a vacant lot into a mini farm. I think they were in the Oakland CA area.

We don't do a CSA since I'm trying to grow a lot of our vegetables and have a high tunnel to try to extend the growing season. (lots to learn) And I agree with prariemoon that growing your own might be a good idea if you can do it. Good think I like to garden and don't mind squishing potato beetles. We buy some things like corn because I don't want to fight with the raccoons but I'm going to stop buying from what was once a terrific corn stand because they know only grow a super sweet variety so that early in the season they pick it too soon and late in the season it's too big. No longer can get silver queen there, a great late season corn. I'm also happy to buy fruits and berries at local farms instead of growing my own although I keep thinking I need a strawberry bed.


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Marty -

Take heart - I'll keep this short and leave all the soap
boxes to Ms. Dee - at out next swap I'll tell you about
all the remarkable community gardens IN the ghettos
of New York and Philadelphia. . .and the vast roof
gardens on top of flat warehouses all over the city
of New York that are now regularly supplying some of
the best upscale restaurants in that city.

Carl


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Dee, I can use frozen fruit because I do add them to smoothies and oatmeal with ground flaxseed on top. Yum! Raspberries added to buckwheat pancakes are amazing and better than frozen blueberries. Strawberries with frozen bananas with yogurt or almond milk are awfully good and a fast breakfast! Otherwise, I like my strawberries fresh. Frozen blueberries, added to a green smoothie of raw kale, avocado and celery are better frozen than fresh. Otherwise, I like blueberries fresh best.


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Yes, Marty, Carl is right (did I say that out loud...?) There are amazing things being done in inner cities and even suburbs regarding community/urban gardens, rooftop farming, school gardens. It really is wonderful and energizing and the sad part is is that it isn't widely known. If it were more widely known, I think these things would catch on and spread.

I'm going to link to an absolutely wonderful video of aTEDex talk, from a few years ago but still great, of a teacher in the South Bronx, who will leave you absolutely breathless from his 15-minute talk. He started a group called the Green Bronx machine, which seems to be doing really great work. There's also Farm School NYC, an arm of Just Food; Grow NYC; Grow to Learn NYC and more.

Here in CT we have Urban Oaks in New Britain, Common Ground High School in New Haven, GVI in Ridgefield (I think) which does a lot of work in Bridgeport, the CT Outdoor & Environmental Education Association, New Haven Farms, and countless other small groups doing great work in schools and communities. And most states in the northeast have a NOFA chapter (Northeast Organic Farming Association) which deal not only with local, sustainable agriculture, but encourage homeowner growing, school garden and even organic land care.

Really lots of great stuff going on. Lots of great stuff.

Please watch the video below. This man's enthusiasm will make you want to go out right now and volunteer to help someone learn to garden!

Dee

Here is a link that might be useful: Stephen Ritz Tedex talk


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RE: So I've decided to join a CSA.......

Hmm, talk about timing. Just got this story in my inbox today. Another step forward!

Dee

Here is a link that might be useful: Boston approves commercial farming


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