March 6, 2012

Community Supported Agriculture

For a while, we were making a good habit of waking up early enough on Saturday mornings to get to the famous farmer’s market under the Crosstown Freeway.

(It’s taken me a long, long time, but I’ve finally come to the realization that no matter how painful it can be at first to shove yourself out of bed early in the morning, it almost always ends up feeling good to be up and about before 9 a.m. Except, of course, for those days when nothing feels better than lounging around in your pj’s till noon.)

Lately, though, most of our extra-fresh-and-local produce has been coming from Farm Fresh to You, a community-supported agriculture service my husband signed us up for several months ago. It works like most other CSAs: For a fee, a box of organic, in-season produce is delivered regularly to our doorstep, along with a couple of recipes and a little report about how things are going at the farm. We’ve scheduled our deliveries far enough apart that I lose track of when they’re due to arrive, and it’s always a fun surprise to open the front door and find the CSA box there.

“The box is here!” we say. And then we unpack it to see what goodies are inside. Our latest box had apples and oranges, spinach, baby bok choy, leeks, potatoes, radishes, broccoli and endive.

The quality is fantastic, I love the home-delivery service, and I’m looking forward to upcoming opportunities to visit the farm. I’ll confess a few misgivings, though, about passing up some closer-to-home options.

In particular, I’m thinking seriously about signing up with Stockton Harvest, a service operated by master gardener and super-neat guy Eric Firpo. (True story: A few years ago, Eric came over to help us prune our apricot tree. We’ve been following his guidance since, and every summer we get lots of beautiful fruit). Stockton Harvest delivers $15 bags of pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, all grown locally – mostly in backyards in and around town. When you sign up for the service, you receive weekly email messages letting you know what produce is available for delivery. If you’d like a bag, you respond with your address and pay when it arrives. If, on the other hand, your backyard produces more fruit than you know what to do with, Eric will consider buying it. He pays 15 cents a pound.

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