Community Sustained Agriculture broadened our menu

This year, we decided to join a CSA, a community sustained agriculture, group. We paid ahead and agreed to pick up our allotted produce once each week, beginning in early June. The produce was organic and came straight from the farm that day. We’ve had herbs such as cilantro, dill, basil, and garlic; fruit such as strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries, muskmelon, and apples; vegetables such as radishes, onions, leeks, lettuce, carrots, spinach, peas, scapes, chard, kohlrabi, beets, broccoli, cabbage, different types of potatoes, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, sweet peppers, celery, tomatoes, sweet corn, eggplants, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, different greens, and edamame; and pumpkins and flowers.

I’d never had fresh herbs other than garlic and dill before so I had to learn how to use them which meant looking for new recipes. What did we do before the internet and search engines? I made a pesto with the basil which was really yummy on homemade bread fresh out of the oven. I tried a pickle recipe with the dill. My family wasn’t a fan of the cilantro so I must not have used it correctly because I have friends who just love fresh cilantro. Perhaps I used too much since they complained it was too strong. The websites said that I had to use it up within a certain time, and I just hate wasting anything, though I did follow the recipes.

My family was familiar with all of the fruits, but I still tried a new recipe—rhubarb sauce. We tried it on ice cream and in vanilla or plain yogurt.

Scapes, chard, summer squash, eggplant, butternut squash, fresh sweet potatoes, and edamame were all new to my family. They liked the chard in salads, but weren’t fond of the cooked chard. My husband liked the edamame so he had to eat most of that. I really liked the eggplant and tried two new recipes with it. Of course, I was the only big fan of that so people started getting testy when it came up on the menu again. The butternut squash soup was tasty, as were the sweet potato hash browns and candied sweet potatoes. Before this, I’d only used sweet potatoes from a can.

Like I said, I don’t like wasting anything so if it was in our weekly allotment, we were going to eat it. Sometimes I felt stressed trying to figure out what to do with a certain vegetable or herb, especially if there was quite a bit of it; but overall, it was a pleasant experience. We enjoyed trying new things—well, my husband and I did, the kids were sometimes suspicious—and having such a variety. When certain items are in season, a family tends to see that on the table a lot—such as green beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, and cucumbers. When the season is done though, it is done, and something new takes its place.

I’d like to think we’re healthier for it. It was a pleasant adventure. Have you tried a CSA? Do you enjoy a local farmers’ market?

6 thoughts on “Community Sustained Agriculture broadened our menu

  1. We did part of the Southern WI Soil Sisters farm tour this past summer, and learned about these weekly food drop places. Since we eat out way more than we eat home, it would never be worth it for us…I just don’t enjoy cooking and we eat pretty plain and simple. But for someone who likes creativity in the kitchen, I think it would be a great thing.

    1. This experience definitely expanded my creativity in the kitchen. 🙂 It was a good experience for me, but I do like to cook. What I create is never Martha Stewart-like pretty, but hopefully, it tastes good. LOL Thanks for sharing.

  2. When having too much herb for the moment, chop it and freeze packed tight in ice cube trays. Then just enough olive oil or water to cover over each cube. Once frozen, pop out and put in storage container and is then already to toss in soup or meatloaf or whatever. I can’t get enough fresh stuff at my house. I feel so much more energetic and healthy eating fresh. Glad you enjoyed this experience and hope it only inspires you to expand your garden next year.

  3. I’d love to try a CSA. Will have to check and see if there are any in my area. I’m not fond of cooking, either, but fresh from the garden always tastes so much better!

    1. Fresh does taste better, I agree. 🙂 You could google Community Sustained Agriculture or Community Supported Agriculture for your area and see what comes up. In our area, some join together for a tour in the spring. I think there was a list of participating farms at one of the tours. I wish you lots of success, Mary.

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