Congratulations on signing up for a CSA share! Enjoy the culinary road before you. Keep an open mind toward any yet-unfamiliar foods, and savor the fun of discovering recipes which feature them.
In the 6 years (or was it 7 or 8? -- I've lost track) we've had a share, my learnings have included that:
- sweet potato leaves are not only edible, but scrumptious.
- a lush bunch of parsley looks nice on the kitchen counter, and can harbor delightful, honored "guests" like Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars (who proceed to get prime real estate in the middle of the living room, and whose dietary needs then take precedence over the ingredient needs of the potato salad for which the bunch was previously destined).
- freshly harvested carrots are a taste-world away from those sold in the grocery store
- mint sun-tea laced with lavender is just lovely.
- we simply can't make enough baked kale chips to satisfy our younger TruffulaBoy. He's hooked on them.
- we used to think in terms of using garlic cloves, not heads, and now I buy it by the pound.
- living seasonally takes on deeper meaning when it intersects with your plate.
We've become CSA evangelists, happy to share information about the concept in general, and "our" farm in particular, to anyone who's even remotely interested.
Yet, I didn't renew our share for 2011.
It was a hard decision, but was the direction which felt right. It's not a quitting of the CSA as much as it is a graduation of sorts.
In a presentation I attended, a CSA farmer said that she expected her customers to move on after a few years. Sacrilege!, I thought at the time. She explained that her goal was to introduce people to this food production model and to a variety of vegetables, and then to see them use that knowledge. As existing customers left, they created opportunities for new customers to come in. I didn't quite understand that at the time, but I do now; I've arrived at that leaving point.
We really have learned so much about food and cooking, and caterpillars, too! (Monarchs make the most exquisite chrysalises on the undersides of kale, a beautiful miracle to find as you harvest the leaves in the field.)
What are the next steps?
- I want to grow more food in our own garden. This has inherent challenges, poor soil and significant shade being among them. I am composting up a storm to improve that clay. As for the shade... I'll learn first-hand which edible plants tolerate what degree of it. Seeds have been purchased!
- I will do more shopping at my farmers' market and co-op group, and will be a more educated consumer as result of my CSA participation.
- The TruffulaBoyz and I will continue to volunteer on the farm. Being an end-user of the crops is just one way to support local farms; elbow grease is another very welcome contribution.
- We will keep sharing the good word about CSAs, organic farming, and local agriculture
Yours in yummy, locally-grown, organic food,