By Liz Susman Karp
With the current spotlight on farm-to-table eating and eating local, spring presents an opportune time to sign up for a share in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
A CSA is a weekly allotment of farm-grown vegetables, usually enough to feed two to four people. Fruit, eggs, meat and poultry additions are often optional. Splitting shares is common. Some farms are certified organic, others follow organic practices (high certification cost) or have taken the NOFA (National Organic Farmers Association) pledge to farming, marketing and farm management in accordance with sound ecological and economic principles.
Participating in a CSA enables shareholders to obtain fresh, natural food; it’s a statement of commitment to the land, and lends support and security to farmers. That’s got to make food taste better!
There’s something grounding (no pun intended) about eating seasonally, when food reaches its natural peak. It’s reminiscent of a simpler time, yet is thoroughly modern. A plant-heavy diet with few or no processed foods has proven more nourishing. Fertile soil fights the effects of global warming. Improved access to better food offers choice in a food system which promotes unhealthy foods.
Each week’s share is different. “The quantity of types of produce varies week-to-week depending on what is available–we include all produce we grow here on our farm,” says Christine Tartaglia of Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard. “But, for example, the cucumber crop might be fruiting like crazy one week and, say, peppers are not, so you might get more cukes in that box and no peppers. But that being said, we know that no one wants an overload of one type of veggie, so we do our best to offer a broad range of staples and new/different items each week.” Visit harvestmoonfarmandorchard.com
CSAs provide a weekly newsletter with information and recipes. Jenn Hentel, a member of Roxbury Farm’s CSA, says, “Most veggies you have heard of, but the rarer ones make it fun. My theory is: If you don’t know what to do with it, then roast it!”
A sampling of local options:
Members of Roxbury Farm’s CSA bring their own bags to pick-up sites, which include B’nai Yisrael, Armonk, and Pace University, Pleasantville. Known for innovative practices, the Kinderhook, NY farm’s CSA is in its 26th year. It runs for 23 weeks beginning June 8, with seven to 12 varieties weekly. Options include meat and chicken shares and an 18-week fruit share. Shareholders are asked to contribute time neatening their site or delivering extras to a food pantry. www.roxburyfarm.com
The CSA of Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard in North Salem is in its fifth year. Half or full bushel shares are offered for 13 or 18 weeks beginning July 7. Prices start at $325. A milk share from Ronnybrook Farm is available. Members may receive grass fed beef, apple cider or eggs as occasional bonus items. Visit www.harvestmoonfarmandorchard.com.
The Stone Barns Center CSA, available to members of Stone Barns, “is so much about sharing not just in the crops from our farm, but in the work of the Center to change the way America eats and farms,” says SBC Content Manager Adriana Stimola. Beginning June 1 for 22 weeks, it includes seasonal vegetable varieties not found anywhere else, often trial varieties from collaborative seed-breeding partnerships. Some will be grown exclusively for CSA members. Cost is $800; pick up at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills. Options are chicken, eggs and flower bouquets. Visit stonebarnscenter.org
Simpaug Farms in Suffield, Conn., will distribute its CSA in Ridgefield at Bailey’s Backyard and the Ridgefield Farmers Market from June 6 to Sept. 19. Each weekly or bi-weekly share includes five to 12 vegetable varieties with herbs, berries and occasional preserved items from the farm kitchen. Meat, eggs and other products may be purchased through the farm website. Members are encouraged to share their experiences, photos, and recipes on Simpaug’s social media pages. 300 shares are available; cost is $35/week. Visit www.simpaugfarms.com.
Pound Ridge Organics, a local organic food hub, offers a CSA featuring all clean, locally-grown products year-round without upfront cost. Members receive a weekly order form for organic/biodynamic produce, certified organic, animal welfare-approved meat and poultry, dairy, artisanal breads and other natural products, including kosher, vegan and gluten free options. New this spring is a heritage egg and poultry option. No limit to spots or minimum/maximum order, but organizer Donna Simons, who founded PRO five years ago after doing a research project on factory farming, prefers people order on a regular basis. Pick up at hr carriage house in Pound Ridge. For more info, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSAs provide appealing alternatives for food choice. Dara Mirsky joined Roxbury Farms so her young sons could see her and her husband enjoying vegetables. “I like getting vegetables that are still a little dirty…just pulled from the earth,” she says. “And on the whole everything tastes a lot better than the supermarket.”
Liz Susman Karp is a freelance writer and public relations practitioner. She, her husband and two teenage sons live in Briarcliff Manor near the site of Briarcliff Lodge where they used to explore the ruins when the boys were young.