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Buy Local: Who's Your Farmer? {+ CSA tips}

August 14, 2013

Susan and Adam - owners of Tangleroot Farm

I wrote over the weekend about our decision to join a local CSA {Community-Supported Agriculture} due to the fact that our wild critters are completely wiping out my garden.  We found one still accepting members who pro-rated their membership according to the number of weeks remaining.  The photo above is the adorable, hard-working couple, Susan and Adam, who run Tangleroot Farm, the CSA we've joined.

You may recall my post a couple of weeks ago about the young man Sam, who runs Stone House Farm and Market.  Adam is Sam's brother.  They are a warm and outgoing family and genuinely nice people.

Although this is Tangleroot's first year as a CSA, gardening and CSA's are not new to either of them.  Susan has years of experience with family gardening and Adam has a few years experience working on and running a CSA which is evident both in their set-up as well as variety of items they offer.  There is a list of items offered throughout the year on their website.

We chose a small membership to supplement what's left of our garden and this is what we received at our Tuesday pick-up this week.

That's a SMALL share.  The CSA cost averages to about $15.00 per week.  Obviously, we get more than $15.00 of veggies per week in the share.  Although not Certified Organic {it takes a lot of money and time to get certified}, Adam and Susan at Tangleroot Farm use all natural methods to grow their produce.  No harmful chemicals are utilized.

Tangleroot Farms is still accepting members for the remainder of the year if anyone is interested.

What is a CSA?  CSA = Community-Supported Agriculture.  CSA's support sustainable and responsible land management and a shrinking carbon footprint.  Members pay up-front to become a shareholder in a farmer's growing season.  This essentially means a partnership between you and the farmer.  Of course, this also means you are rewarded when the farmer has bounty and you share in the loss if a farmer loses a crop.  Some years you may get more carrots or potatoes and less broccoli for instance.  It's determined by how each growing season goes.  Typically, the share consists of a box of seasonal vegetables every week during the growing season picked at the peak of ripeness and flavor.

The question I hear posed most often, when discussing CSA's, is why should we join a CSA?  My first answer is unparalleled freshness.  Here are a few more reasons why:
  1. Putting money back into your local economy.  Through a CSA you are directly supporting a local farmer, without money first going to a  middle-man.  This also allows you to connect with the land, the farmer, the food and your community.
  2. Knowing what you're putting in your and your family's mouths.  You are able to see how your produce is grown and ask any questions of the farmer - total transparency.  Something you can't get at the grocery store.
  3. Save money.  You get more food {and at a much higher quality} for your money.
  4. Gain exposure to new veggies - ones you wouldn't typically purchase.  From time-to-time you may get a veggie that you've never tried before.  For us, a couple of years ago when we visited Essex Farm, was the first time we tried kohlrabi.  We love it!  I would never have purchased it in the store because I had never used it before.
  5. You will be eating seasonally.  All the veggies you receive {and fruit if it's offered} will be harvested at the peak of ripeness and flavor giving you the highest quality of produce available.
  6. Reduce your carbon footprint.  Do you know how far most supermarket veggies travel prior to arriving at your local store?  On average about 1,300 miles.  Yikes!  That's a lot of fossil fuels being used!
  7. Bulk quantities.  Many CSA Farms allow their members to buy some veggies in bulk at a reduced price for canning, freezing, etc.
  8. If you have children leery of some veggies, often times it helps for the child to pick the produce.  Most farmers are willing to take the kids to the field and let them pick a few of the veggies for their share.
A few of the things to remember when deciding to join a CSA:
  1. You may still need to shop at the grocery store or farmer's market.  Staples such as potatoes, garlic and onions may not be available at your CSA every week.  Also, most CSA's don't offer much fruit so you would need to purchase this separately as well.
  2. Prior to joining a CSA you should become familiar with what veggies can be preserved and how.  This will help you survive the CSA abundance you pick-up every week without risking anything going to waste.  Preserving will allow you to enjoy the summer bounty far beyond summer.
  3. Find good resources for veggie recipes.  Whether you pick-up a plethora of one certain type of veggie or something you've never cooked before, you will need ideas of how to prepare them.
Need help finding a CSA in your area?  Local Harvest is a great resource to help with this.  Also, the Kitchen Garden Farm in Massachusetts has a great seasonal harvest calendar on their website, helping you anticipate what will be in season each month.  And because most of us are up to our ears in zucchini at this time of the year, here's a list of 10 Healthy Recipes Utilizing Zucchini from Boston Magazine.

So, the title of the article asks who's your farmer?  Do you know who yours is?  I know who ours is.....

Also, don't forget today is "Homemade Living Wednesday"!!  

Please check out the Homemade Living Posts this week by these fantastic bloggers:

**Next week I will be posting to the Homemade Living Series.  Joining me will be these amazing bloggers:

We hope you join us every Wednesday!!

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