Last week was our first farm share pick-up, and it was beautiful — lettuce, broccoli, green garlic, kale, bok choy, spinach, radishes, scallions. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do this, or why we didn’t do it sooner. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an increasingly popular way to participate in the ‘Buy Local’ movement. The CSA model is essentially this: Payments made by community members in early spring helps the farmer afford to plant and care for his crops, which the community then receives a share of as repayment. Many CSA farms also either require or encourage members to work on the farm during the season. We joined Hearty Roots Community Farm, which is in Red Hook; for less than $20 a week we get 8-10 pounds of seasonal, fresh, organic, locally grown vegetables weekly until October. Yum. To buy the same amount (and quality) of produce in a grocery store would cost twice as much.
The positive implications of joining a CSA program are plentiful. For one, you are feeding yourself and your precious family super fresh, clean produce. Since they didn’t have far to travel and thus move quickly from ground to plate, the vegetables are more nutrient dense; and tons of resources weren’t used in their storage and shipment, which is helpful to the environment. And if entire communities once again depended on their local farmers for food — including meat and dairy — think of what that could mean for land conservation, local economy, and community spirit. Now, I might be sounding a tad bit idealistic in my unbridled enthusiasm, but I think it’s worth considering how our environment, our health, and our communities may be enriched if, rather than buying things we can grow in our own backyard from other countries or states, we looked to the farmer down the street.
Here are some Valley CSA programs — though most fees are collected in March, many farms still have shares available.
Little Seed Gardens, Chatham
Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook
Brook Farm Project, New Paltz
Hawthorne Valley Farm, Ghent
Midsummer Farm, Warwick
Greig Farm (Fruit shares available), Red Hook