Our CSA Adventure

Our CSA is an adventure in food, farming, and community. We are all asked to participate in each of these aspects. Some love this adventure, embracing the process thoroughly. This adventure shatters the experience for others. Many of us fall somewhere in this spectrum, not on either end. Regardless, once embarked upon, we are in this adventure together.

We are growing and enjoying fresh, local, seasonal foods. To expand and extend the assortments, we add “quirky”, off-the-beaten-path foods. These are often not your common known favorites, not your traditionals. We also plant in many successions. This allows multiple harvests through time. The earliest gardens often repeat later. We are truly expanding the possibility of our locale. We broaden the array of foods, and the array of nutrition we take in. We are broadening our horizons!

An openess to new and sometimes unusual foods, an attempt at “putting up” foods for winter, gorging on seasonal foods in season (as many of us easily do, and expect, with local fruits), finding creative ways to enjoy repetition, these are all very much a part of having a fresh, local, seasonal garden. (This is also the most financially rewarding way to take advantage of our CSA.) Many of you also share your foods with other CSA’ers, neighbors, family, friends, co-workers. This is enjoying the abundance!

Our CSA is, in many regards, much like your very own garden. There is both great risk and great reward. There is tremendous effort involved. You will eat as best you can from this garden this year. You will sometimes have foods picked early, small, late, or over-ripe. You won’t want to waste anything! You will have too little of some things, too much of others. Some weeks you will not have time to “deal with” all that perishable food. You will wish you had more for your dinner party this weekend. Certain foods will be coming out your ears (and pores!), others scarce. It’ll come and go. Sometimes it’s tough to control.

Pushing the local, seasonal, diversity, nutritional issue is really important to us. We’ve got to find ways to put the food in our mouths and enjoy it! We will insist that you, “try, try again”. The food will keep coming at you all season long. Changing or challenging food and spending habits is hardcore. There is a lot of tension and a lot of necessary, sustained effort in this process. Our CSA is definitely not a simple food for cash exchange.

One of my greatest pleasures of 7 years with our CSA is when, after four years of kale, a gentleman said, “Chris, finally I’ve found a way to enjoy kale! It’s delicious in scrambled eggs!” Sometimes this takes serious time. This is definitely an investment.

As the years have passed I’ve become more vocal and explicit about the perils and rewards of the adventure together. I’ve discouraged many potential participants by being frank and forthright. Our CSA is not for everybody, and a poor fit will not be pleasing. Our CSA is not even a farmer’s market exchange, where exact cash for exact produce is the norm.

Does this sound like too much propaganda? To some degree it is! We definitely push forward an agenda. We don’t deny that. The most perfect fit we find for our CSA is when we’re together, mostly on board with this complex, multi-faceted agenda.

Communication is essential in this process, especially to make it sucessfully satisfying. We all benefit from communication within our wider CSA community. Talk to us and others, and talk with us and others. We have telephone, email, the blog, facebook, the curbside. This is part of building and sustaining our locale, our culture, our health, and our lives! This sounds grandiose because it is!

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One thought on “Our CSA Adventure

  1. Reblogged this on Swier Family Farm and commented:

    The growing season is moving forward full-force. The start of our CSA harvest season is just around the corner. As such, I’m both working and thinking towards that start. I remembered about a previous post “Our CSA Adventure”. I’d like to re-post it. Also remembered about some lines from a good book a friend of ours lent us (thanks Jeanne!). It’s all good food for thought!
    ~Chris Swier

    The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love. Kristin Kimball. 2010. (pages 161-162)
    …. “The central question in the kitchen would have to change from What do I want? to What is available? The time spent in the kitchen – in planning, in preparing, in cooking – would jump exponentially. Moreover, our frost-free growing season is only about a hundred days. To eat perishable food out of season, you have to make the time to can or freeze it while it is fresh and abundant. Those projects are fun and satisfying if you have the time for them, but if you’re working a full-time job while trying to satisfy the needs of your children, they begin to seem sweaty and tedious. Maybe most important, farm food itself is totally different from what most people now think of as food: none of those colorful boxed and bagged products, precut, parboiled, ready to eat, and engineered to appeal to our basest desires. We were selling the opposite: naked, unprocessed food, two steps from the dirt.
    I knew from what I was experiencing in our kitchen, that if we could get people to take a taste, some things we were producing would sell themselves. You could not have a pork chop from one of our pastured pigs and ever want to go back to the factory-raised kind…We’d be asking people to eat things they couldn’t identify and didn’t know how to cook… Moreover, we couldn’t offer the kind of consistency that consumers have come to expect from grocery store food. Could we really expect people to change their habits so radically, and pay good money for it?”

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