Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Looking Ahead - A New Kind of CSA

Although I grow a majority of the fruits and vegetables we enjoy throughout the year, there are always some things that I just don't bother with in our relatively small garden - often because they are things better grown by the wonderful farm families that surround us here in rural Virginia Beach. I buy these fresh fruits and vegetables from the farm stands that run from Stoney's Produce, right on First Colonial Road all the way down Princess Anne Road to our neighborhood.  Two of my favorites are strawberries and sweet corn, both fabulous fresh eats that are grown abundantly by our local farms. This brings me to the concept of joining a CSA for the season.
CSA represents Community Supported Agriculture. In a CSA program, families and individuals can purchase up front a "share" of a farm's production for the season. You sign on to support your chosen farm whether it is a good season or a bad season, sharing whatever is being harvested in a given week.  Luckily, our local farmers are excellent and, barring hurricanes, they seem to always have abundant harvests for their customers.  A CSA program provides funding up front in the early spring when farmers have to purchase supplies to get the farm into gear for the season. It also provides great local fresh food to you at a substantial discount - CSAs are always a good buy for your budget!

In the past, I've held off on joining a CSA because I wasn't sure how much produce a two-person household, especially one with vegetable and fruit production of its own, could really use. I didn't want to waste a basket of beautifully grown produce! Now one of our local farms has come up with a program tailor made for us smaller households.  In addition to their regular "basket a week" CSA program, Vaughan Farms has started a new Credit CSA Program. Vaughan Farms 2010 CSA Programs

With this program, I'm signing up in advance to get $10 worth of credit at Vaughan's farm each week for 16 weeks. Cost to me: $109.60.  Savings? Wow!  I can use my "credit" for anything that's in season at the farm that week - strawberries, spring and summer vegetables, fresh eggs.... what a feast!!! And if I'm out of town or don't get over to spend my all of my weekly credit, they will provide fresh produce from the farm to a local charity in whatever amount has not been spent.  Everyone wins!

Word to the wise - as with all CSA programs in our area - sign up FAST. The openings are limited and there is always more demand than the farms can supply.