Understanding CSA and Farm Stands for your Organic Food
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Hello, hello and welcome to the Simple Organic Guide Show where we talk about everything and anything in the natural and organic living space.
I’m your host Jan Davis, coming to you from the southern tier of Western New York.
Welcome to May 17th, 2018 – this is episode 4 and we’re going to continue talking about eating and buying local. Today, we’ll talk about CSAs Community Supported Agriculture and farm stands. Where you can find them, their advantages and disadvantages.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast, so you have every episode at your fingertips or your ear tips. And don’t forget to go to simpleorganicguide.com/4 for the show notes and any information from this specific show and simpleorganicguide.com to get new information. Every day this past week I’ve been writing quite a few articles and label information on eggs. It’s incredible! No, not the incredible egg! It’s incredible how many labels can go on our eggs. Plus, next week there will be a new article out about eggs, labeling and what they mean, and how to decide what type of egg you would want.
So now on with the show…
We’re talking about local, yes, local food and buying it. Last week we talked about farmers market this week, we’re going to talk about CSA Community Supported Agriculture. If you’ve never heard of one of these listen closely. If you have and never tried one, you might want to try one soon, because they close. Not literally close, like close their doors, but many times they fill up.
So what is a CSA?
It is a partnership between you, the consumer and the farmer. It takes away some of the risks from the farmer and it gives some guarantees to the consumer. There are two different types of CSAs I’ve been involved with.
One was a traditional CSA where the consumer purchases a share or part of a share and a share, is an amount. It’s not a specific amount of you get like 2 tomatoes and 2 cucumbers. You get a certain percentage of the bounty for that week. So if there’s more bounty, you get more, if there’s less bounty well, you get less. You buy a share and sometimes depending on the farm you pay for it incrementally over the winter or throughout the season or up front before everything starts The other options some CSAs have is that you pay some and you work some. That way, you’re also helping the CSA, and it’s not quite as expensive. You’ll have to ask the CSA that you want to join how they work the money part of it.
The other type of CSA I’ve joined has been a non-traditional one where you pay a membership free upfront and then each week, everything that you decide to purchase is less money than if it was being sold to the general public. So that is the economic part of it. For the farmer they get some much-needed funded upfront, they can buy seeds, they can fix equipment, they have the money right there and they can use it. For you as the consumer, it is a guarantee that you’re going to get a bountyful of whatever the CSA offers. And you know you’re going to have that food every week and there’s no guess on how much you’re going to spend and sometimes you’ve already pre-paid for it.
What type of CSAs are there?
If you can think of it, it’s probably there. I’ve seen flower CSAs, I’ve seen organic CSAs, I’ve seen CSAs that say: they’re not certified organic and then they list how they grow all their food. Some of them even call themselves beyond or above organic. I’ve seen traditional CSAs where food is grown traditionally, and they let you know that. I’ve seen meat, CSAs and one of the largest ones I read about. I didn’t actually get to see it, had everything from fruits to vegetables, to meat to flowers, and you got to pick what part of the CSA you wanted to join. It was kind of incredible.
So how does a CSA work?
Well, once you’ve paid your fee and you’ve joined – as product is available, you pick it up on a weekly basis. Most of the time you pick it up at the farm itself, but many times – and I see this more and more. They have different pickup areas around a city or throughout the country so that more people can be part of the CSA. One of the people at the farmers market I saw last week do a pickup at the farmers market. So people can go to one general location as well.
The advantage for you as a consumer is that you get to talk to the farmer. You get to see the land, you know what you are getting. No questions – you know. Plus many times you have input into the CSA, you belong to. They may do a survey at the end of the year of what type of products would you like next year, or they may have a suggestion box, or they just might ask.
One of my favorite things of the CSA is learning about different products that they grow, that I’ve never had before now.
This partnership between you and the farmer works. If there’s an abundance of food, you get more and in turn, if there’s not as much usually because of weather you will get a little bit less. But my experience is you always get more than you expect to get, and the value is superb.
Where can you find a CSA?
At the bottom of the show notes, I listed several places that you can find CSAs in your area. You can also go on the internet and look up CSAs community supported agriculture in my area. And it’s amazing how many will come up. The other places you can check are with your agricultural department or your AG extension to see if they have a list of them. Once you find a CSA in your area, call them, go visit them and find out if they have any openings. Sometimes their shares sell up very early, sometimes not. Sometimes they have shares that start different times of the year, depending on if they use greenhouses, weather, location, but the biggest thing is go talk to them. If there’s a CSA, you want to join, and it’s not available right now get on the waiting list and they will give you a call when something opens up.
Once you go to the CSA and pick up your stuff – enjoy it. You’ll meet great people, especially those who think just like you do. So go find a CSA! They’re really cool.
Another place to find local food is a farm stand. Yes, it means a stand in front of a farm, it could be as small as someone who has a garden in their backyard and there’s a table out front with zucchinis and tomatoes for sale. Or it could be a huge stand in front of a large farm that has everything from cheese to milk to eggs to produce and list goes on and on. The other type of farm stand is those that are set up as farm stands and they bring in food from several different farms in the area. When you go to a farm stand, talk to whoever is there to find out how they grow their food and where they grow their food. If you’re getting it from somebody who has a small stand outside their house, they’re probably growing it themselves, but you still want to ask: how do you grow your food? Do use GMOs, etc? You’ll learn how they’re growing and if you want to buy it or not.
At the larger farm stands either at a farm or in our area, we have large farm stands on the corners. You want to find out they’re getting all their food. Many times a farm stand from a single farm cannot sustain the traffic from the area for food or they don’t grow enough variety of food, so they bring it in from other farms. This is fine as long as you know where they’re coming from. My favorite organic farm stand down the road brings in food from different farms and places, but they tell you in their signs exactly where the food has come from. Another farm stands that I have visited, I have to ask where this food is from and on occasion, more times than not if it’s something that they don’t grow, they’ll tell me, we don’t know we order it. Because there is like a produce truck farm stands can buy things off of or they order it and it brings it up from different areas.
Personally, if it’s not grown by the farm themselves, or I know what farm it’s being grown at and it’s being grown in my food philosophy – I don’t buy it, but that is your choice. The farm stand gives you that option.
The nice thing about a farm stand is that there are a lot of times, they’re open all day, long. Some are manned meaning someone is there for you to talk to. Some are not and there’s just a little area with a lockbox to drop your cash or if it’s at a farmhouse they’ll come out, will greet you. But farm stands are a really really cool way to get some fresh fruits and in season too.
You now have two more ways to buy local and fresh a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture and farm stands. Go look for them, enjoy and eat local and fresh.
Thanks for hanging out with me today and remember…
Living in an organic and natural manner doesn’t have to be that difficult, and you are definitely not alone in your quest for organic and natural information and knowledge.
It’s your life and live it as you choose.
Next week, I’ll be wrapping up buying an eating local with eating out at restaurants. I know kind of scary, but you can do it and there are probably some great local restaurants in your area that have fresh food.
Have a great day – every day and I’ll see you next week on the Simple Organic Guide Show. Don’t forget to visit our website at our simpleorganicguide.com/4 for this episode. If you have any questions, email me at email@example.com.
You can find us on Instagram and Facebook @simpleorganicguide and on Twitter @SOGorganicguide.
All links are at the bottom of the show notes.
Until next week this is Jan Davis and I’m stepping out for a breath of fresh air.
References to find CSA