After reading my last posting, Trading in Your Soup for Seeds, a friend of mine expressed some gardening anxiety because she’s missing a “green thumb.” While I was lucky enough to have an experienced gardener show me the ropes of basic backyard farming, many of you are like my friend who fears the wrath of the notorious “brown thumb.” Fear not! There is still a way to support your community, get to know your neighbors, and enjoy fresh produce throughout the gardening season without having to plant and harvest on your own. Enter – the C.S.A.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an alternative way for you to enjoy home grown groceries directly from a local farmer. Clients purchase a “share” of the farmer’s crop and in return receive a package (typically, a box containing fruits, berries, herbs and/or vegetables – whatever is grown on that particular farm) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

According to Local Harvest, a very helpful resource for the “Buy Local” movement, advantages of partnering with a CSA include:

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin
  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow
  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits
  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking
  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season
  • Find that kids typically favor food from “their” farm – even veggies they’ve never been known to eat
  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

veggiesIn my home, we grow some of our own produce and are members of the CSA at Kretschmann Farms in Rochester, PA. Their organically grown produce includes vegetables in season including apples, cider, fresh herbs, blueberries and strawberries. The produce is dropped off from June 1 to Thanksgiving. Our drop-off site is at a friends’ front porch within walking distance from our house. In addition to the very wide variety of veggies, they also provide a weekly newsletter with easy-to-prepare recipe suggestions using the produce that is currently in season.

Buy Local PA, whose mission boasts: “Our goal is to make it easier for you to find, choose, and appreciate great local foods while supporting the farmers and lands that produce them” is a tremendous resource. By clicking the following link, Farms offering CSAs in Western Pennsylvania, you can find a CSA that drops-off produce somewhere in your own neighborhood. pa2Take THAT, brown thumb!

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