Support Your Local Organic Farmer!
I have joined a CSA!
I thought everyone knew what a CSA was, but I have been met with a lot of blank stares and, “What’s that?” with folks who don’t share my elation.
CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.” With a CSA, you commit to buying a share of the produce from a small (usually family-run) farm for a season. Your share is delivered (or picked up) weekly for the length of the season. That way, the farmer is ensured that they have customers, and the risk of farming is spread over a large number of customers. Some weeks, the share will be more, some less, depending on what ripens and thrives.
The particular one I chose, WindyView Acres, is a family farm, located in Dewey, with is between Cordes Junction and Prescott, north of the Phoenix area. They have operated as an organic farm since 1996, but they are not certified organic. I have talked on the phone with the owner, Dana, and am 100% satisfied in her organic farming practices. The cost of the whole share is $500, which is $25/week. The season will start the first week of June and runs for 20 weeks. There aren’t any guarantees, but the goal is 5 veggies… and I think she said 5 fruits weekly, too, though that seems like a lot of fruit, so maybe my memory is wrong on that one. Members also receive fresh cut flowers, herbs, and a dozen free-range eggs every other week or so. The owner/farmer told me that if the first week’s harvest is a little sparse, she will definitely provide eggs and maybe even some meat. (They raise natural meats — not organic feed, but primarily grass-fed, all-naturally fed cattle, hogs, goats, sheep, and chicken. And they sell raw milk — goat and cow — and homemade cheeses, too.) Visit here for a list of what they raise.
CSA members are also welcome to visit the farm at any time. Dana sent me an e-mail yesterday saying that they just had a lamb and a calf born yesterday, so I envision a trip to the farm in our near future.
More good news is that three of my friends (plus my mother-in-law, who lives just down the road from the pick-up spot) signed up, too, and we’re going to run a rotation, so each of us only has to pick up once per month, then deliver the produce to each of us in the rotation. The pick up spot isn’t too far from my house, but it’s nice that I won’t have to drive out there every week to pick up my produce.
When I talked with her, and she found out I have five kids and like ALL veggies*, and again after I had sent her five customers, she asked, “If we have an extra abundance of one or more veggies, do you want me to throw it into your box?” Of course I want that!
On the website, I saw that they raise sheep, too. I talked with the owner about that, and she said that she breeds a certain kind of sheep, specifically for their wool, as she spins, and have never butchered any of them. “But, since I breed them for the color of their wool… I have three ewes who are going to lamb, and if one or more of them aren’t the right color, I’ll consider butchering them. And, two of my rams are fighting, and that doesn’t stop, I’ll have to turn one of them into mutton.” Fiala (my 2 year old) can still only eat lamb (due to extreme and extensive food allergies, if you’re new to the blog), so it would be fabulous to have a farm-raised local source for lamb.
So, I’m really happy. Local, family-farm-raised organic produce, $25/week is a good deal, all the way around. Yesterday, when out grocery shopping, I saw a car with a bumper sticker that said, “Support Your Local Organic Farmer” and it made me feel warm and fuzzy that I was doing just that.
*Well, actually, I don’t like brussels sprouts, which, when I was a child, used to make me gag, and I was so traumatized by them that I haven’t eaten them in about 25 years. But, I told her that I’d be willing to try them, since they’d be fresh from the field and I might like them now… 🙂