C.S.A. Yerselves!

So, you’ve just been to the store, looking for some really fresh veggies ’cause you’ve got a major salad jones and…. It’s just not a great veggie day at Bobs Market. Whataya gonna do?

Could be you’re one of the increasing many who just don’t like the direction corporate food is going, and you’d like to explore reasonable but effective ways to assure that what you and yours are eating is genuinely good for you.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to garden, but your space or time just won’t allow; whataya do?

Perhaps it’s canning that’s caught your fancy; you’re dreaming of neat rows of Mason jars filled with natures bounty, ready to carry you through the dark days of winter. Where are you gonna find produce worthy of such an endeavor?

If any or all of the above strike a chord, you need to get in touch with a local C.S.A. Operation. That’s Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s your ticket to what’s good for you.

C.S.A. Began in the ’60s, in parts of Europe and Japan, in response to concerns very much in keeping with what I wrote above. Today, the need is that much greater, from both sides of the equation. We need and want good, fresh produce and small farmers need people to sell to; it’s a perfect marriage.

So, ready to hook up? Just go here, to LocalHarvest.org. There you’ll find search options based on location, or the type of goodies they produce. In addition to C.S.A.s, you can find Farmer’s Markets and produce stands as well. LocalHarvest is a great organization primarily supported by donations from the outfits you’ll find there.

And let me tell y’all, now is the time to get onboard, because this is more popular than you might realize, and sometimes the C.S.A.s get booked quite early in the season. Some are so popular that they have waiting lists for new clients. In essence, having a pre-paid and guaranteed clientele is what allows C.S.A. farms the security to produce year after year. When you sign up, you’re not just getting great food, you’re actually helping these small, usually family run operations stay in business providing the kind of high-quality produce and fruit we all love.

In most instances, you’ll choose a size and a frequency for what you’re after; many farms offer the choice of full or half baskets, (or an equivalent measure), and a weekly, bi-weekly, or once-a-month frequency of delivery. Some C.S.A.s will actually deliver produce to you, while others have a set location you’ll head for to pick up your bounty. And again, if the C.S.A. Concept seems daunting right off the bat, you can find markets and stands through LocalHarvest as well.

Generally, what you’ll get is what’s ready to harvest that week; depending on the size and specialty of the farm, you may get a bunch of different things or a lot of a few, (You’re always welcome to ask about more of something or another, of course.)

Let me assure you from first hand experience, what you get is glorious. Many C.S.A.s are organic, or employ ecologically sound practices at the least. Quite a few offer heirloom and unusual varieties of fairly common crops, meaning you may well see tomatoes, chiles, lettuces, onions and a myriad of other crops that you’ve never seen, tasted or smelled before. The difference between a fresh heirloom, hand-grown tomato and what you get from the store is profoundly night and day.

What you’ll pay for all this varies, of course, but generally you’ll find it quite competitive with store bought, and again, the quality is far superior.

If you don’t practice any preservation techniques, you probably will after hooking up with a C.S.A. Dried, pickled, canned, or frozen, this stuff is so good you’ll do everything you can to make sure it’s available year ’round. There are quite a few operations dovetailing that desire to preserve with what they offer, making available special mixes for canning or even winter root crops that store well. And of course, right here at UrbanMonique you’ll find a full quiver of how-to’s for preserving.

If all this sounds to good to be true, it’s not; it is truly that good! So get onboard. And if you’re in the area of Hackensack, Minnesota, your search is done; just hook up with Neighborhood Gardens and Kings Gardens, and you’ll be well served indeed. Say hi to Grant, Christy, Lissa and John for us too, OK?

E & M

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