CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): Not Only for Summertime Treats

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): Not Only for Summertime Treats

I picked up my first CSA box last week!

I always thought they were only available from Spring through Fall and I had no idea I could get one during the winter months, especially in Wisconsin. But when I talked to one of my favorite farmers at last week’s local market, he told me he has a “Build A Box” program just for people like me 🙂

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): Not Only for Summertime Treats
A summer CSA box brimming over with seasonal fruits and vegetables

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically when you subscribe to the program, you buy a share in the farm. You are directly supporting that farmer.

You pay a set amount and for a number of weeks you receive a weekly box packed full of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Most programs are weekly, but there are also some farmers that also have boxes available every-other-week. Which is especially good for those of us with a small family or limited storage space for all the goodies.

And because the produce is seasonal, you get to try a wide variety of fruits and veggies throughout the growing season. You may even get something you’ve never tried before! It’s like Christmas – “I wonder what I’ll get this week!” 🙂

Most CSA’s are centered around fruits and vegetables. But I have heard of specialized box programs exclusively for honey, meats or eggs.

Although nationwide now, the first CSA was started in 1991 in New York City. The Roxbury Farm started selling shares out of their stand at the Union Square Greenmarket.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): Not Only for Summertime Treats
Seasonal acorn squash and colorful beets – all naturally grown with no pesticides!

Build a Box – Winter CSA

What really appealed to me about the Build A Box program is that I could decide what I wanted to receive. In the winter months, that means a lot of root vegetables, potatoes, apples and winter squashes. There may even be hot-house greens, but mainly root vegetables.

The beauty of this winter CSA is not only that I could design my own box, but also that it is on a pay-as-you-order basis! Meaning you don’t have to pick up a box every week. You only order when you want to…and you fill the box with what you want!

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture): Not Only for Summertime Treats
Sweet heirloom Arkansas Black apples from my winter CSA.

For my first box – and yes, I plan to get more boxes throughout the winter – I kept the order small. I wasn’t sure how much I’d receive and quite frankly, my freezer is full right now. We can never go wrong with Acorn Squash in our house and I LOVE beets. So I requested a bit of those.

Also because the farmer had raved about the heirloom apples he had, Arkansas Black, saying they got sweeter as they aged, I ordered some of those too.

And let me tell you, he wasn’t kidding! Those are the most delicious dead-of-winter apples I’ve had in a very long time!

Look for a winter CSA in your area!

You know I love to go to a local farmers’ market. But I am also really liking the idea of not having to venture out in the cold winter months. I LOVE knowing that I can place my order from the comfort of my couch and  pick up my goodies on the way home from work.

If all this sounds good to you too, look for a winter CSA in your area. I am sure there are plenty of programs and maybe a farmer in your area also has a Build a Box option.

 

Let me know what delicious healthy produce you get in your winter CSA. I’d love to hear what is available around the country 🙂 You can leave your comments in the section below.

And remember, if you aren’t sure of what to do with some of the produce, you can contact me by email or look here for a tasty recipe. I’d be glad to help!

You can also sign up for my FREE Cooking Basics how-to tips to help you prepare the produce in your CSA. When you sign up for the tips, I’ll email you one a week for an entire year. That’s 52 helpful tips – from cooking eggs to freezing veggies 🙂

Enjoy and Be Healthy!

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