This is the first Farmers Market Update describing a CSA (community supported agriculture) box, and I absolutely love it. Thanks Samantha!
Farmers Market Update: Central Farmers’ Cooperative
by Samantha Jones
I’m Samantha Jones, a Bay Area girl who now lives in LA. I’m getting a masters in public health at UCLA (which is awesome) and I love running, cooking, and dreaming about growing my own veggies.
Wednesdays are the most exciting day of my week. I leave work or class, rush to a designated pick-up site, and retrieve a mystery box! I head home, joyfully unpack the box and make something amazing for dinner, often for a friend who has noticed I have delicious lunches and wants to know my secret. The secret is a weekly CSA share, something I’ve been participating in for the past three years. Thanks to my CSA, I am now an awesome cook, I can turn any vegetable into a tasty meal and I have a diet centered on fresh, affordable produce.
CSA stands for community supported agriculture, and it’s basically a system where we as veggie-consumers buy our produce directly from the farm that grows it. The idea is that the farm gets payment up front to support their operating costs, and their subscribers share in the farm’s harvest via a weekly produce delivery. In the SF Bay Area, where I bought my first veggie box, I subscribed to the very awesome Riverdog Farms. Now that I live here in Los Angeles, I subscribe to the equally awesome South Central Farmers’ Cooperative. I know affordability is relative, but I have found CSAs to be very reasonable.
I wrote this over the course of three summer weeks, and each week I got a TON of produce. I have mounds of spicy peppers.
And more summer squash and zucchini than I can handle. (I invite friends over for dinner and force them to take squash home.)
I also get melons each week, a treat because boxes are generally veggie focused.
This summer I’ve also gotten bunches of beautiful basil every week, which smells AMAZING.
I get kale year round (several kinds in the winter time!) which is great because I can eat it every day.
I also get tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers each week. Last week was unusual in that I got a vegetable I’ve never seen before – I think it is some kind of long bean?
This was all summer produce; in the fall and winter I get several kinds of greens each week, (collards, spinach, kale, chard) broccoli, winter squash, carrots, cabbage, beets, (LOTS of beets) and citrus fruit. In the spring, I get asparagus, fava beans, more beets, more greens, little carrots, strawberries and lettuce so good it will blow your mind. With some CSAs you can even order pasture-raised meat and eggs!
I started buying a CSA because a good friend loved hers and I wanted to try something new. I was really bad at actually making it to farmers markets and when I made it there I got excited and spent way too much money. My CSA solved these problems for me, but now I keep it up just because I love it so much.
Sometimes I tell people as a joke that my CSA totally CHANGED MY LIFE, but really, it’s kinda true. It has raised my standards for produce quality, made me a better cook and an all around healthier person. I totally encourage people to try a CSA, you can check out Local Harvest to learn more about CSA programs and find one in your area.
What did you find at the market this week?