November 20, 2017
As the Spring season draws to a close, I thought it would be a fine time to review the benefits of being part of Community Supported Agriculture. There are many reasons to join a CSA but here are my top ten.
- You know your farmer. If you make the most of it, this can be a huge advantage as a CSA member. You have direct access to the person who grows your food. Any feedback is able to be given and acted on immediately. Questions about how to prepare or store a vegetable are just an email or text message away. You can ask for certain herbs and not others; request that we grow less cabbages and more cauliflower next Winter, or let me know when you will be on holidays. You can find out exactly how your food is grown, including what we add to the soil, how we control weeds and where we buy our seeds. No question is off limits.
- You eat seasonally. Whilst this does take some getting used to, eating seasonally is the best way to ensure that your food is harvested fresh rather stored. It also ensures that you appreciate vegetables a whole lot more. When you buy zucchini and tomatoes all year round they are nothing special compared to a freshly baked loaf of bread or a ripe mango or cherry. However, when you wait from June until November for that first zucchini to be ready, or look forward to a fresh tomato after months of anticipation - it tastes amazing. Not just great, but magnificent. Some people even say that our bodies crave seasonal food. Think of tomato, watermelon and cucumber in the middle of Summer and then imagine eating them on a cold Winter’s day. I know which one I’d prefer.
- You eat locally. There are many benefits here. Your food is fresher because it hasn’t travelled thousands of kilometres to reach you. It is able to be picked the day before it arrives in your hands. You are also supporting your local economy and adding value to your community by ensuring that there is a thriving local farm in the area. Who wouldn’t want to live near a CSA? Plus, you can get to know other like-minded locals through our farm events, pick-ups and even on our Facebook page.
- You lower your environmental footprint. Belonging to our CSA means that you eat more sustainably. You lower your food miles and use less packaging. Not just the plastic around your vegetables or the shopping bags, but also the film wrapped around the produce boxes when they are shipped on pallets to the store. Your food is grown organically, so there are no herbicides or synthetic fertilisers making their way into our waterways and ecosystems. We rely on building the soil to improve fertility and increase organic matter, so the small amount of organic fertiliser we do add stays where we put it rather than leaching into the water table. Local frogs, lizards, snakes and birds can find habitat on our farm where plants are allowed to flower and trees and hedges surround the fields. Diverse cropping, rather than monocultures, creates micro-habitats for different insects, which in turn feed animals further up the food chain.
- You can visit the farm. The transparency provided by a CSA means you know exactly where your food comes from. It’s your farm and you are welcome to spend time there and look around. This can be every week if you choose the pick-up option. Otherwise, regular farm events can provide this opportunity. You can show your kids or grandkids how their food is grown, pull a carrot, help plant the garlic or harvest your own pumpkin. In fact, with a bit of notice you are welcome anytime on the farm – just text or email to arrange a visit. You will gain a connection with the land you may not even know you were missing.
- You can follow us on social media and through our weekly email newsletter. This is a great bonus! With near daily posts on Facebook and Instagram, and a weekly newsletter full of photos, you can really see what it’s like each day on a small organic farm. You also get recipe ideas and gardening tips. Rather than just a trip to the shops, buying and eating vegetables becomes an educational and entertaining experience.
- You try new veggies and tantalise your tastebuds. Receiving a mixed box of whatever’s in season and growing well on the farm each week, encourages you to try new veggies. Because they are in season, growing strongly and freshly picked, you may even find that you suddenly like something you never thought you would. Having fennel a few times over a season encourages you to prepare it in different ways. This helps you discover how you like to eat it, rather than buying it once and then never again if you didn’t enjoy it the first time. The benefits for kids are particularly excellent, as they get to know new veggies and try them on many different occasions. Research tells us that kids need to try something at least 10 times before they begin to like it and a CSA can provide this chance.
- Your food has more nutrients. Joining a CSA is good for your health. Vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals, but these nutrients begin to degrade as soon as the veg are picked. So, eating veggies sooner after they have left the farm means they will be more nutrient-dense. An added bonus is that because you have a box of veggies in the fridge, you will eat more veggies!
- You get free access to bulk veggies for preserving. While this may not be for everyone, it is a great opportunity for those who are interested. Recently we gave away boxes of cabbage for sauerkraut and kimchi making. During tomato season, we will be able to do the same thing for passata. Being part of a CSA means you ride the wave during the good times and the bad. A bumper harvest provides us with extra to preserve, balancing out a flooded carrot bed or hail damaged lettuce.
- Best of all - it’s fun! Each box you open is like a present, grown and packed with love just for you. It’s like Christmas every week or fortnight. After months of care, veggies are harvested, washed and packed carefully into place to be enjoyed by our members. It’s a surprise each week. The first zucchini, the first watermelon, an unexpected bunch of flowers. You never know what you are going to get, but you will definitely get a surprise.
Well, if that’s not enough reasons to join, I don’t know what is.
P.S. Did I mention it's a great bargain too? Just compare the price, availability and quality of organic veggies in the supermarket.
Yours in veg,