Yes, we’re all snowed in today- but we can dream of Summer, right? Shorts and flipflops, outdoor concerts and BBQ’s, Farmer’s Markets and all the fresh produce you could dream of… So that’s what we want to talk about: fresh produce, specifically how to get more of that produce into your home, and hopefully your diet. Seems a little strange to talk about in January? Bear with us:
CSA- or Community Supported Agriculture is an idea that has been around awhile, but really started gaining traction in the past decade. The concept behind CSA started simply- Farmers needed start-up capital for seed purchases and all the growing costs leading up to Farmer’s Market season. Produce-minded people wanted to guarantee that they would have fresh produce during the growing season. So the CSA share was born. A household signs up for and pre-purchases a “share” of the crop- usually in January or February when farmers are planning their year and making seed purchases. Then the household receives a share of the produce based on that pre-purchased amount during the harvest season.
Besides helping local farmers, there are plenty of reasons why this CSA notion is a really cool thing. For starters- we all know that if you have fresh produce in your house you’re a lot more likely to eat fresh produce and make good food choices. Having a box of fruits and veggies showing up every week also means you’ll eat more produce because “more is showing up on Wednesday!” Plus, getting fresher produce also means it tastes better, is usually better for you, and lasts longer (it doesn’t get much fresher than getting it straight from the Farmer). And if you really hate constantly going to the grocery store- CSA’s solve that problem too. 🙂
Here in Tri-Cities we have a few CSA-style options for produce baskets.
-Hermiston Melon Company’s Harvest Basket program: The Harvest Basket is a literal basket that you purchase in January- then fill up each week from July-September. The Harvest Basket is currently $200 (price goes up January 15) for 10 weeks of produce- each week you get $25 dollars of produce in your basket. One difference of this basket vs. a traditional CSA program- Harvest Basket lets you pick your own produce. So if you want just watermelons one week, and cantaloupes and bell peppers the next week- that’s cool, you fill up your own basket up to the $25 value. HMC fills Harvest Baskets at most of the Tri-City Farmer’s Markets (drop sites are also flexible and they’ll work with you if you’re out of town for a week). You can learn more about their program here
-Finley’s Fresh Produce has more of a true CSA design, but still allows households to pick their own produce. Finley’s delivers produce to specified locations and you meet the truck and pick out what you want for the week- you can purchase different size shares based on what your family will eat, you can also choose to spread your “shares” out- taking more on some weeks and less on others (see their website for complete details and share sizes/prices).
-Schreiber and Sons is a farm that has had a traditional CSA program in the past, now they pre-sell produce off their website and you can meet them at market to pick it up. You pay only for what you want that week, and pay online when you place the order. Full details of their Inner Circle Program can be found on their website.
-Local Pumpkin Produce Box is a company that works with area farmers to fill a CSA style box- though you don’t do business with the actual farmer. Much like a CSA however you purchase a produce box and Pumpkin Box fills it based on that week’s produce availability. You can purchase different sizes and styles of boxes. Full details are available on their website.
Do you know of any other CSA programs in the Tri-City area? Please leave us a comment and tell us about it!
We wish you good health,
Columbia Basin Racquet Club
Photo Cred: Suzie’s Farm via Flickr