Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's CSA Time!

with Sesame Street string beans to inspire you...

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it means exactly that: directly supporting a small, family-run farm in your area by purchasing a share of what that farm produces over a season. They typically span from May to November, and each week members receive a box full of fresh-picked vegetables and sometimes fruit. Many CSAs also offer local eggs, dairy products and organic beef and poultry.

Every year since I've lived in Philly, I've tried a new one. Each has offered family recipes and an annual potluck at the farm. But as far as offerings, they've all been different, and each has been wonderful. I love the anticipation of finding out what small (and sometimes giant) treasures will be in my box each week. You may have to get used to an overabundance of a certain vegetable (it always seems to be green peppers for me) and it's a great way to create kitchen improv. My first year, I was a member of Greensgrow, an amazing urban farm in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia; then Spiral Path, a certified organic farm; and last year, Lancaster Farm Fresh, a cooperative of farms in Lancaster county. This year I joined Lanisdale Farm in Jonestown, PA. (pic below)

I've found the best way to find a CSA is to ask around your local farmer's market. Buy Local PA has a directory, but I'm not sure how up-to-date it is. And Farm to City allows you to join several CSAs in the Philadelphia area directly from their website.

Now if we could just figure out how to get this kind of produce prepared for forty people and onto our set for twenty days... Ideas, anyone?

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