(Image courtesy of activerain.com Blog Cindy Jones)
As most of my friends know Tom and I will be selling our homes in the spring. It is time to combine households and buy a home together. We have been spending our time getting things ready for the sale. Repairing and painting the ceilings, remodeling bathrooms, cleaning out basements, it keeps us pretty busy. So when the spring comes next year there will be no garden to tend. We do not know when the houses will sell but we are expecting a quick sale. Of course that is the expectation of every home seller. Our fingers are crossed.
With the sale of the homes in the spring gardening is going to be held to a minimum. If the homes sell then the gardens will be lost and we have to start anew. To keep a supply of fresh produce in the house we will be joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). The CSA is a local farmer that offers shares in his farm. Once a week starting in the spring we will pick up a box of produce grown by our local CSA. The shares are either money paid to the farmer in advance or time spent on the farm working. You can sign up for different distributions. There are weekly, biweekly, or even seasonally shares. You can buy a share that contains produce from several farms or a share that consists of produce from a particular farm. Some shares will have options for items other than produce like eggs, cheese, honey, meat, to name a few.
Shares are seasonal produce so you may have to head to the market to supplement the produce that you receive. Your share may be light at the beginning of the season with greens, peas and green onions but they become heavy as the season progresses with boxes of potatoes , squash, cabbage. Most farmers supply a list of items that you will receive during the year. Make sure to ask up front about the rules. (Box pickup, not picking up one week, swapping produce, etc). Eating fresh seasonal vegetables directly from the farmer eliminating the middleman is what CSA shares is all about.
Before you jump into a CSA share you need to consider some aspects of the process. Do you have time to cook the produce that you will receive and if not do you have neighbors that will accept the extra produce that you do not have time to eat. Choose a CSA that you can benefit from and a CSA that has a good reputation. Everyone wants a box of produce that is full and fresh so choose a CSA that has good recommendations. Ask your friends or other CSA members about particular CSAs and shop around. What type of CSA do you want to belong to. Some will require work in the fields, some have boxes that are filled for you and others let you select what you would like in the box each week. Some allow monthly payments instead of one payment at the beginning of the season. Also, know the ins and outs of the contract.
There are several CSAs in the area as you can see by the map supplied by Fair Share CSA Coalition.
We will be moving to the Middleton/Madison area. There are more choices. Driftless Organics drops off veggies in the Middleton area. They have a good reputation in the area. Two Onion Farm an organic farm that is well organized and been selling CSA shares for over ten years. Scotch Hill Farm an organic farm that has been offering CSA shares for 20 years and has a variety of shares to purchase. There are farms that offer honey, cheese, eggs and meat also. The Fair Share website has many choices and chances to meet the farmers through local events.
I am looking forward to the boxes of fresh produce that we will be receiving next year. It is going to be a great time to be a vegetarian.