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Posts Tagged ‘CSA’

not long ago we wrote about our search for a cincy-friendly csa; we ultimately ended up joining cedarmore farm, a new csa located just outside of hillsboro, oh.

it’s a longish drive — a 3-hour roundtrip — and so far, the farm doesn’t deliver. but we’re sharing the driving responsibilities among five cincy families, and are finding that the trip, when made once a month (or a little less) makes for a lovely and peaceful way to spend a late afternoon.

or morning. we skipped the afternoon pick-up on july 4th because we had pork shoulder resting and waiting to be shredded and fresh berry pies waiting to be eaten. but saturday morning, with our new york city friends in tow, we headed out to the farm.

andy and lizzie and their 17-month-old daughter anna greeted us with boxes packed and ready for delivery. after loading the boxes into our car and oohing and ahhing over the baked goods placed temptingly for sale,we were treated to a walking tour of the farm. as we wandered around, andy talked to us about his farming methods while introducing us to his horses, goats, lambs, pigs and chickens, and showing us the cornfields, vegetable beds, and greenhouse. we learned that the hershbergers are part of an amish community newly relocated to the hillsboro area from wayne county, ohio; that the soil at cedarmore had been severely depleted by the previous farmers; and that andy and lizzie, with the help of their animals and an adherence to the “beyond organic” philosophy espoused by joel salatin at polyface farm (and described at length by michael pollan in “the omnivore’s dilemma“) can already see a difference in the quality of produce after one year of tending carefully to the dirt underneath their feet.

in addition to normal csa bounty — which means plenty of whatever is ready to eat that week, and little of what isn’t — lizzie sells homemade goods: jams and fruit butters (the pear butter is a must-have); fruit pies with soft and tender crusts; and freshly baked home-made bread. they sell farm-fresh eggs by the dozen as well as any extra food ripening that week (last week we bought an extra pound of tomatoes for $2 and have been eating gazpacho — made with mostly farm ingredients — all week long). we’ve purchased several chickens already (which are amazing for their texture and flavor, and really put most store-bought chicken in its place) and will certainly buy more as the summer progresses. we have purchased a quarter steer (grassfed & freerange) that we’re splitting three ways with two other families and is due from the butcher sometime this week. (i suspect we’ll be buying more as the season draws to a close and we start to stock up for the lean winter months.) while we visited, andy reminded us that we could also buy pork the same way, and i remembered that they offer herd-shares for those who want to drink legally-procured non-pasteurized cow’s milk.

in short, we’re thrilled with cedarmore and hope, in seasons to come, to get even more cincy folks on board, enjoying the fruits (and vegetables, and meats, and more) of andy and lizzie’s labors.

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We’ve subscribed to CSA farms for almost ten years now — first in Madison, WI, and later in St. Paul, MN. When we moved to Cincinnati last year, we were a bit late for a CSA share (May), and frankly, too busy to do much more than cursory research (which revealed … not much).

This year, we resolved … what’s that you say? What’s a CSA, you ask? Oh, right, a little background. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I’m not sure of the origin of the term, or where it got started, but it essentially works like this: non-farmers (like us) buy a share of a regional farm’s seasonal output; by paying up front, early in the season, they help the farmer(s) pay for the sowing and tending and reaping of the crops, and in return, the non-farmers (like us) get a weekly share of the bounty.

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It can seem like an expensive proposition at first (share costs vary widely, depending on a number of factors, including the number of weeks, weekly volume, and how much or how little the farm transports the goods), but when you’re opening the fifteenth share in late August and munching on fresh sweet corn that was picked THIS MORNING, that money you spent in April seems like a mere pittance. And crunching the numbers can reveal that you’re not paying that much more (if at all) than you would for fresh, healthy organic produce at the market.

There are other benefits, as well:

  • Participating farms tend to be organic, or even “beyond organic” (exceeding FDA standards for organic production and emphasizing sustainability) eliminating pesticides and genetic modifications from the equation.
  • They’re local, which cuts down on the carbon footprint of getting food to your door — even if you have to pick up at your farm, you’re using less fuel than if you go to your neighborhood grocery for produce from California and Chile. Many CSAs offer convenient pick-up locations somewhere between their farm and the population they serve, and a few even deliver to your door (our last CSA in St. Paul delivered our goods every week in an old ambulance that had been converted to running on vegetable oil — they called it the veggie-bulance, and you knew it was nearby when you smelled warm french fries in the air).
  • They encourage you to eat seasonally — you know, asparagus in the spring, when it grows, corn in late summer, and so on. This may not seem like such a big deal, but when you eat locally grown foods in season, they taste so much better than most of the out-of-season produce we can get so easily at our supermarkets.
  • They support local agriculture — personally, I feel better about giving my produce dollars to an Amish family in Hillsboro (like we are this year) than to a farm conglomerate subsidiary of a megacorporation in California; in addition, I like the idea that as CSAs proliferate and generate enthusiasm, more and more farmers will convert to a more sustainable model, and more and more consumers will benefit. Sort of an idealistic critical mass, if you will.

Anyway, this year we resolved to get on the job of finding a local CSA earlier, and were pleased to find several options. This is a great resource for finding area CSAs; use the radio buttons on the upper right to select CSA, whether you want to subscribe online, then enter your zip code, and presto, you have a list of farms in your area offering CSA shares.

Before I fall off my hobby horse, I wanted to point out a local blogging resource that I found the other day. It’s called Cincinnati Locavore (I know, I know, I’m late to the show — City Beat even named it one of the best local blogs for 2008), it’s run by valeree, and there you’ll find a wide range of topics on local food production, distribution, and consumption. valeree offers an extensive list of resources, including local food sources and restaurants emphasizing local foods, Cincinnati food blogs, and links to further reading.

*edited to add* Thanks to Victoria for a link to a definition and brief history of CSAs.

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