A few months ago I received a newsletter from one of our retailer customers, Crunchy Granola Baby. In this particular newsletter, they espoused the virtues of joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and were looking for people to join with them in buying shares of their local CSA. I had heard of CSAs before, and was interested in joining their group, but Salem is a little far for us. I decided to look for a CSA closer to home and found the Heirloom Harvest CSA in Westborough, MA.
For those of you not familiar with CSAs, they are generally cooperative farms where you buy a membership and get a "share" of the harvest, usually weekly. It gives local farmers secured capital, a guaranteed market, and less risk, while giving locals local produce, and an opportunity to participate & connect with their food source (often a some volunteering on the farm is required).
Some benefits we have found include (1) forcing us to break out of our "broccoli, corn, and peas" routine by introducing us to veggies we normally bypass at the grocery store...such as kale, eggplant, swiss chard, different types of squash, etc. and try new recipes....mmmm kale soup! (2) give us an opportunity to show our children that food comes from the field, not aisle 1 of the grocery store (particulary on "pick your own" days when we go out to the field to get our peas, green beans, or cherry tomatoes)., (3) and save money on organically grown produce. I haven't done a scientific analysis...but my gut says we are saving---our split share is just over $300 for weekly produce from June through October.
Of course the other great benefit is supporting local organic agriculture. Why not check to see if you can find a CSA near you?