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Have You Tried a CSA?

Spring is here and with it, come thoughts of farmers markets and fresh produce. Now is the time to look into joining a CSA. If you'd like to join a CSA but don't know much about it, read on.

"CSA" or Community Shared Agriculture refers to a group of individuals who collectively support farm costs. It provides an opportunity to buy fresh, local produce directly from the farmer. Most CSA farms use sustainable, organic farming practices and it's a good way to support their efforts. Shareholders pay a certain fee for the season in order to receive a portion of the yields. A "share" includes a variety of vegetables, herbs and fruit based on what is harvested each week. Items typically vary in amounts but there is always plenty available.

A work component is often required as part of the share. For example, our CSA requires a 7 hour work commitment for the season. This can be split between family members. Or, if you split the share with another person/family, you also split the number of work hours. Many people find this component of the CSA to be the most rewarding. It's a great way to get kids interested in vegetables. My family really enjoyed picking eggplant last September and eggplant remains one of my son's favorite foods.

Motivation to eat healthier is one ancillary benefit of the CSA. Many participants find inspiration to eat more vegetables. Shareholders swap recipes and tips on how to use and store produce. I found myself exploring and experimenting with new ways to incorporate vegetables into our meals. The fact that the vegetables and fruit are picked just before they hit your table means they taste so much better than what you'll likely find at most grocery stores.

Here are some local CSA's to check out:

Heirloom Harvest

Silerwood Farm

Stearns Farm

Chesnut Hill Farm

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