Spring is finally here! What do you do to welcome the season of sunshine?
For some people that means breaking out those new kicks and hitting the pavement running, or maybe setting new professional goals for yourself. For me, it means the arrival of fresh, young local produce! It’s been a loooong winter and while I do enjoy my share of sweet potatoes, kale, and apples I sure am excited to welcome asparagus, spring peas, and ramps- and that’s only the green vegetables! The best part about the spring season is all the new varieties of fruits and vegetables that crop up at the farmers market, and I find that the best way to introduce yourself to them is by joining a CSA, or community supported agriculture.
Joining a CSA is a great way to support local farmers and enjoy all the seasonal produce that your area offers. A typical spring CSA starts in May or June and provides a weekly or bi-weekly supply of produce until the end of the growing season, usually in November. Becoming a member of a CSA has many benefits for you and the farm you choose to support. The CSA model requires members to pay an up-front fee that will help the farmer cover the costs of purchasing seed and equipment, and ensure a smooth running season. For many people wishing to support local agriculture and enjoy seasonal produce, this up-front cost can seem a little daunting- tell me about it, you’re talking with a student here! Many CSAs have payment plans that allow you to pay in installments, and an increasing number are even accepting SNAP (food stamps) benefits, or implementing a sliding scale. Farmers want as many people as possible to reap the benefits of local food, so they are constantly innovating their membership guidelines to accomodate as many people as possible!
And that is another one of the great reasons to join a CSA- the many members you will meet and the community you all form together! Many CSAs require that you participate in a volunteer shift to help out on distribution day or to be an advocate in the community. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with your fellow shareholders and swap recipes, nutrition tips, or other local food news.
So, how do you find a CSA that works for you? In New York City, Just Food has made it their mission to provide as many resources as possible to connect you with local farms and food. Check out their map and find details about a CSA near you!