Supporting your local farmers with a playful twist

6 09 2011

As I mentioned before through this blog, supporting your local agriculture is fundamental for the development of the economy in your community. You can do this by buying in farmers markets and stores that you know that sell local produce, but there is another way of doing it that we choose and I actually find it a lot of fun, and that is to subscribe to a CSA. A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a consortium of local farmers that prepare boxes that either are delivered to you or you pick up each week (or twice a month, it depends on the deal).

My husband and I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and we find that there is not really such a big price difference with the supermarket, especially when you factor in that most of the produce that we get is either organic or naturally grown. There might be some disadvantages to this, as in you pay up front for the season, or you might pay in installments but you are locked in, and you lose your share if you are not in town that week, except if you arrange before hand with a friend. Your share also is affected by the weather conditions, since it’s local, and you do not get to pick the produce. For example, this summer has been killer for us in PA, and our shares show it! Last year we got all kinds of things that we have barely seen this year. Additionally you don’t choose and you get what you get… which for me is part of the fun of the CSA.

Forbiden Rice Puding recipe given by our CSA.

Our CSA is Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance, it includes over 10 different farms (and one of them is a consortium itself) and Ms. Karlin Lamberto does a great job at keeping in touch and informing us of what we are going to get in our share each week. I get really excited about fruit and veggies, so this for me builds anticipation, and I love it! as one of the improvements this year, they have set up a blog in which you can see what you are getting each week and they share recipes that include some of the produce you would be getting. I have discovered many a new recipe that I’ve loved, and I have faced the challenge of eating things that I did not like, because of course you do not want to waste what you’ve paid for! This has built me greatly as a cook… I’ve had to find ways of making fennel or broccoli likeable for us! And I’ve discovered that I actually do like eggplants 🙂

We also have discovered things that we had never eaten before (kohlrabi?) either because we did not know how to cook or because it was too expensive in the supermarket. You also get to eat the prime of the season and incorporate a wide variety of nutrients, which is always good for you. Additionally we get cheeses and herbs about every other week. Coming the end of the season we also get apple cider (one of the few things with nutrients I could take when I was in my first trimester) and apple vinegar!

Penn’s Corner also holds farms stands through the year. You can find a lot of produce that they will have and order before hand for pick up at the market. They have suggested extending the shares into the winter, which I would love to see happening, but so far they run from early spring to November.

Living in the Pittsburgh area? Consider giving them a try next year!