To CSA or Not to CSA?

When I first started “blogging”, I wasn’t actually blogging.  I was using the ‘Notes’ tab on Facebook to journal.  I started out with weekly updates of my CSA share from Providence Farms and included recipes and anecdotes.  Partly it was a way for me to share with friends what I was doing, but in the back of my mind I was writing a book and I needed a place to keep notes that could be eventually incorporated into my book.  My book dream hasn’t died, but the Master Plan has evolved along the way.  So have the notes. 

The notes are now this blog and it is so much more than a diary of my CSA share.  In fact, because I didn’t sign up for a winter CSA share I haven’t blogged about a CSA much at all.  Why didn’t I sign up?  First of all, Providence didn’t offer a winter share.  Second, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t going to do a CSA share because I would be growing more of my own veggies this year.  I still plan to grow more veggies, but in the past I haven’t had a lot of luck in my garden.  I’m hoping that I can remedy that this year, but I’m nervous about doing it all on my own.  Plus, at the moment I don’t have a greenhouse, or a hoophouse, or even a cold frame.  I have a plastic seed-starting tray.  This limits the winter and spring growing I can do.

I started seeds two weeks ago, but so far only the onions and cauliflower have sprouted; old seeds will do that to you.  I’ll purchase some fresh seeds and try again, but crop failure is always a risk when you are a farmer or a gardener or even an urban homesteader which I think is what I’m aiming to be at the moment. 

When a friend asked if I wanted to split a CSA share, I hesitated.  Then I did a little research and decided to go for it.  We started a share with 9 Bean Rows Saturday morning.  We decided on 9 Bean Rows for a few reasons. 

First, their timing was perfect.  Instead of offering “summer” shares starting in June and running through October ike most the CSAs around here do, they offer four sessions that start and end with the changing of the seasons.  Since we just celebrated the Vernal Equinox, Stephanie and I were just in time for a spring share. 

Beacuase the sessions are shorter than most CSA shares, the initial expense is less too.  Most CSA shares run $450-$500 for the season.  At $350 for 12 weeks, the weekly cost works out to be about the same as the longer shares only in a smaller dose.  Plus, they let us pay in four installments; I’m paying two, Stephanie’s paying two.  It hurts less that way. :) 

Another nice thing about 9 Bean Rows is that they offer three different tiers of shares.  The Herbivore share is for salad lovers.  Each week you receive a variety of greens, herbs and edible flowers to make interesting salads year-round.  Tastes of the Garden is the basic share.  It is probably the best value and if I do a summer share, I might downgrade to this share. It has whatever is in season picked fresh each week.  The Cream of the Crop share that I’m splitting with Stephanie is the “premium” share.  Each week you get the basic share plus a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs and frequent “value added” products.  These could be wine from Blackstar Farms, jams and jellies in their season, morel mushrooms, syrup or herb butters like the chive butter tucked into my share this week.  My logic on springing for this share may be twisted, but here it is:  It’s spring.  Not a lot of things are growing yet.  As they start to come into season, the Cream of the Crop shareholders will get the first of those newly emerging products.  That means that as rhubarb, asparagus, wild leeks and even morels start poking their heads up from the cold earth, (Stephanie &) I’ll be the first to enjoy them.  We’ll also get more of these goodies than the standard shareholders and as the season runs out on these goodies, we’ll get the end of the run too.  When pickin’s are slim it seems worth the extra investment.

You’re probably wondering why I’d pay extra for a share that offers eggs when I’m harvesting my own now.  Well, I’m not.  Stephanie and I both have chickens and didn’t want the eggs, so the folks at 9 Bean Rows swapped out the eggs for an extra loaf of bread each week.  This is perfect for us because now we each get a loaf every week instead of splitting a loaf.  It’s actually a better value for us too, because even when I was buying eggs, I was paying less for a dozen local eggs than they charge for a loaf of their delicious bread.  I bake a lot of my own bread, but it’s nice to change things up once in awhile. 

And, the last reason I decided to go with 9 Bean Rows this season?  Well, you may remember that I’m on the Family Wisdom planning comittee this year.  Jen from 9 Bean Rows is speaking at the conference this year.  She’s agreed to do a session on how to cook from your CSA share or from what’s in season at the Farmers’ Market.  It seemed like the right thing to do.  You know, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” 

Our share was short a couple things this week because I signed up at the very last minute and they had already harvested and sorted everything, but Jen said she’d catch us up next week.  So, if you need one more reason to try a CSA, here it is:

9 Bean Rows Cream of the Crop

My Cream of the Crop share: Spring Week 1

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “To CSA or Not to CSA?

  1. lifefullofwhimsy

    That all looks VERY yummy! I think we are planning on signing up for a CSA share this year (or summer) I don’t know where though. But that bread looks DELISH!

  2. Pingback: Down with Dark Days « Notes From a Country Girl Living in the City

  3. What a creative way to run a CSA! I like your reasoning.

    Tricia from MLFB

    • aastricker

      I’ve been really happy with my share although it’s really salad-y right now. I’m working on a CSA post . . . maybe tomorrow?

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