Reflections of a First Year CSA Member by Meredyth Holmes

As this year’s season draws to a close, I can honestly say that being a CSA member has been a wonderful experience for my family and me.  For years I contemplated joining this group, but I was intimidated by the volunteer commitment, which I understand can be a bit of a drawback for many people. Now I can say that I feel very good about setting aside time from my schedule because it helps a local organic farm to thrive in an age when big food companies are taking over the land to plant GMO’s and bombard our soil with pesticides. I hope more communities like ours will support sustainable local farms like Golden Earthworm and take a stand against the big farming industry that proliferating unsustainable farming practices.

Freshness of the produce was one of the reasons we were so attracted to this concept. It is impossible to find that kind of freshness at any supermarket in the neighborhood. Another thing that made me to want to join was the knowledge that local food has far more nutrition than produce that has been sitting in a supermarket.  I discovered it tastes so much better too!  I also loved having the opportunity to meet my local farmer and learn about how they grow their stuff.  It can be very confusing nowadays in the produce world. A food can be pestiside free but a GMO and vice versa. The best thing is to know your farmer.

Becoming a CSA member this year got my 5 year old son Matthew much more interested in trying different kinds of fruits and vegetables. My husband and I took him to the farm for strawberry picking and the farm tour, which was really fun for all of us. Every week when we got our produce my son would curiously wonder what was inside the box. There were many vegetables that neither he or I had ever seen before, which further piqued his interest. When I received our Romansco Broccoli this week (a type of broccoli that none of us had never seen before) I was so taken by how unusually beautiful it was that I used it as a center piece on our table. Matthew exclaimed, “Wow Mommie, what is that?”I explained it is a type of baby tree and he wanted to play dinosaur and eat them. He actually really liked them and ate all of it. This was one of many occasions since joining the CSA that my son was excited to try a new vegetable.

I found that many of the veggies and fruits that we normally would not eat made quite palatable, even tasty, juices. For anyone who is into juicing, try rhubarb in your juice. It adds a tangy celery-like taste to your juice and it is very nutritious. I also discovered kholrabi, fennel and celery root to be quite nice. We normally love broccoli, but we have received such a surplus of it over the past month that I thought, why not try and juice it. Surprisingly, it makes quite a lot of juice that does not taste bad when you add some carrots and apples to it. I was grateful to the members that posted recipes. It helped me discover scrumptious veggies I normally never would have tried. When we got our Japanese turnips I did not know that to do with them until I learned on the website they are really tasty fried in butter and garlic. I also discovered they are fantastic added to asian style soups and stir-fries. Being part of the CSA helped my whole family eat healthier. When our fridge was overflowing with fresh local produce, we had less room for the not so healthy stuff.

Lastly, I had a great experience interviewing members of the compost collective as part of my volunteer commitment. It was a little scary for me and a lot of work —I had never done an interview before and have no journalistic experience.  I like that it pushed me outside of my safety zone.  I had almost 2 hours of tape to condense into an article, which was challenging. In the end, I was so inspired about composting that I have signed up for a composting class.  I was very  impressed by the people who run the collective. They are so dedicated to making our community a better place, and they get paid nothing for it other than knowing they are doing their part to make a better world for every one around them.

For these reasons, I would highly recommend becoming a CSA member!