It’s time to pick out your CSA for 2011! In case you haven’t been introduced to the concept, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Generally how it works like this: you give your money to the farmer in the spring when the farmer doesn’t yet have a steady income. In return you get a box or bag of produce every week throughout the summer season. Usually the CSA price is a discount from what the same produce would bring at the farmer’s market. So you save money and support the farm too – quite a bargain!
Here are the farms offering CSAs who attended the March 21 meeting of the Kitsap County Agricultural Alliance, in alphabetical order:
Marilyn Holt’s 80 acre farm is the largest operating farm in the county. This certified organic CSA offers a substantial discount for a 20 week season. Pick up is at the farm on Tuesdays, South Kitsap on Thursdays, or the Poulsbo Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. There’s also a Mini-Share for a single person which may be unique in the county. If that’s still more than you need, you can buy veggie bucks at $90 for $100 of produce.
Going out to this farm taught me the joy of connecting with the place where my food is grown. The farm store is open year-round; just now you can pick up early cool crops like kale and spinach and catch a jump on the farmers market season. The farm has just started adding duck eggs too.
Full details here: Abundantly Green CSA.
This year Rikke Giles and Randy Wagner offer both a summer and a fall CSA. They also offer a payment plan which may be helpful to those on a tight budget. The 2009 FoxDog CSA was my first, and I loved getting bags of mixed produce. They introduced me to lovage, a cousin to celery that is much easier to grow and is heavenly in soup stock, and epazote, a useful Mexican herb added to bean dishes to reduce flatulence. They had garlic and mesclun in spring, cabbage in the fall, and warm weather peppers and tomatoes…you get the idea, it was a wonderful introduction to having a CSA.
The summer season runs mid-May to the end of August, 16 weeks. Pickup is at the farm on Tuesday days and Wednesday evenings. Full details here: FoxDog Farm CSA.
This farm offered its first CSA in 1991, the oldest CSA in Washington State! The CSA includes full or split shares; a deposit holds your place with the balance due at the first pick-up in June. The season runs to October, and pick up is at the 13 acre farm in Indianola. It’s part of the experience to come out to the farm and connect with the land and the people as well as the food.
Most CSAs offer add-ons to the plans, like eggs or chicken. Perspehone Farm has the widest selection of add-ons, including bread, cheese, salmon, berries, fruit, and wine. And the CSA comes with a bouqet of flowers!
Full details here: Persephone Farm CSA.
Pheasant Fields Farm
This was my 2010 summer CSA. Nikki Johanson’s produce, eggs and chicken fed the whole family. Your share buys a coupon book redeemable at (pick one) the farm store on Tuesday or Friday, and the Silverdale, Bremerton, or Poulsbo Farmer’s Markets. The way it works is, you buy a coupon book at the beginning of the season, then use the coupons just like cash at your designated pick up to buy vegetables, eggs, or chicken. You can’t miss the stalls at the farmer’s markets, they’re always the big colorful ones with the huge variety of produce and veggie starts.
Coupons versus shares: I’ve had CSAs which handed me bags of produce (FoxDog and Gregory Farm), and a CSA coupon book (Pheasant Fields Farm). They both have their charms. Having someone else pick out your produce introduces you to new things and cuts out the shopping dither factor. The coupon system lets you pick exactly what you want and skip the weeks you’re out of town.
Whatever system you decide on, now is the time to get your application in and secure your summer’s produce! It’s a hard choice, these are all wonderful farms run by dedicated women and men. Even if you grow some of your own veggies, like I do, the farm share provides variety, and connects you to the world of Kitsap food producers.