As spring time approaches and flowers begin to bloom, my heart skips a beat. The warm weather is beautiful, but my excitement comes with the start of our family farm share. From June-October we receive a bounty of fresh fruit and vegetables once a week. It is, hands down, my favorite part of the season. Here's why:
1. Supporting a small family business. By participating in a farm share, or CSA, I am helping a local farmer budget for the season. Rather than wage their bets at the farmers market each week where weather and crowd volume can cause profits to fluctuate, my farmer receives their payment from me up front. The bonus for me, is that since I already paid for them, I am incentivized to actually get my share each week rather than be lazy and skip my fruits and veggies.
2. Eating seasonally. This is a big one for me. My grandparents always gardened and grew many fruits and vegetables. In my mind there is a season for blueberry picking, a season for the juiciest tomatoes, and strawberries are best ripe off the vine. I can't imagine a tomato, mozzarella, and basil salad in the dead of winter. Automatically getting seasonal produce 5 months out of the year means I don't have to think about when and where something grew when I see it on the grocery store shelf.
3. A balanced diet. This is our fifth season participating in our current farm share. When we first started our CSA, our weekly meals took a significant shift. We always ate a good portion on fruits and vegetables, but they were never the primary food group on our diet. Getting the weekly share forces us to eat a peach or plum for a snack instead of a cookie. Two years ago we realized we were easily eating all of our produce each week. Our eating habits had shifted. So last year, along with the addition of Behr, we opted for a full share. Between the baby purees and our own cravings for the delicious produce, it was perfect for our family.
4. Budget friendly. For less than $40 a week, we have more than enough produce. Inevitably, we freeze items for later in the year. In fact, we just finished our last fresh frozen green beans last week. The budget rewards of participating in a CSA extend far beyond the few short months of the season. Inevitably, our grocery expenses go down every year during the CSA.
5. The community. We love the community that is created through supporting a small family business. Going on five years, we know our farmers well. It is a joy to catch up with them each year. They have seen us through job changes and they were some of the first people we told we were pregnant with Behr. They hold parsnips and beets aside for my husband, because they know he loves them and I wouldn't buy them otherwise. They offer Behr a fresh peach when he joins me for the pick up. We have caught up about weddings, and births, and graduations in their family as well. We have prayed for illnesses, and shared struggles. They have become part of our DC family, and integral part of our community.
If you are in the DC metro area, I highly recommend Orchard Country Produce.
For everyone else, check out Local Harvest to find a CSA near you.