At the height of the summer, I am sure that many CSA subscribers are facing the same dilemma: what do I do when I go on vacation?
As a CSA novice, this was one of our concerns when my husband and I were planning to join because we were in the final stages of booking a month-long trip to England to hike Wainwright’s almost 200 mile Coast to Coast path, from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. This would mean missing four weeks of vegetables and fruits. Having spent several years living in Eugene, Oregon, a slow food haven in the Pacific Northwest, we were enchanted by the notion of CSA’s, but never participated because we were able to grow our own vegetables in a community garden plot and had a plethora of farmer’s markets from which to choose our weekly produce. Moving back to NY made it clear that if we wanted to continue the sustainable habits we cultivated in Oregon, we would need to join a CSA.
In the midst of our decision to join, my good friend Marybeth also moved to Forest Hills and I immediately approached her to see if she would be our veggie-sitter. Of course it is always an option to have your share donated while you are aware, something that benefits our community immensely. At the same time, however, having a veggie-sitter introduces new people to the CSA and slow food movement, allowing them to experiment with the CSA process without a financial commitment, thereby growing a deeper community commitment to sustainable farming practices.
Here’s a brief interview with Marybeth about her experiences as a month-long veggie sitter.
G: What was your experience with the CSA movement before I asked you to veggie-sit? Had you heard the term before? If so, where?
M: I had the strange idea that CSA had something to do with having a small plot of land for an allotment garden that you had to farm yourself.
G: What was your initial reaction when asked to veggie-sit? What apprehensions did you have? What piqued your interest? Why did you agree to veggie-sit?
M: I was glad that I could help you in some small way while you were away on your trip. At first I thought it was going to be a little time consuming, not knowing what was required or how the process worked. But I was excited at the prospect of getting different vegetables each week, especially things I normally would never buy on my own.
G: How did you find the experience? What were some of the challenges and triumphs?
M: I really enjoyed the experience. The biggest challenge was bringing everything home! Those bags brimming with fruits and vegetables were heavy! I was also a little daunted by identifying some of the more unusual veggies. But these last few weeks have gotten me cooking more than I have in ages and trying new vegetables. One night I came home with Swiss chard, and I decided to take out my grandmother’s recipe for cream of Swiss chard. I used to watch her make it, and this was the first time I made it myself. The next week, there was so much zucchini, I made zucchini bread, the first time I ever made anything from scratch.
G: Would you share any of your recipes?
M: Of Course! This is one for zucchini fries from Health Magazine.
1 Egg White
1/4 Cup of Milk
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Vegetable Cooking Spray
Preheat oven to 425°. Cut zucchini into 3-inch sticks. Whisk an egg white in a small bowl, and add milk. Combine Parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Dip zucchini sticks into egg mixture, and then roll in breadcrumb mixture. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, and place zucchini on sheet. Bake for 25–30 minutes or until golden brown.
Thank you to our fabulous Veggie-Sitter, Marybeth! The rewards of veggie-sitting: helping a friend, learning about new vegetables, experimenting with new recipes, strong biceps (from lifting the bags) and a deeper commitment to sustainable farming. If you are going on an extended holiday, this is a wonderful opportunity to allow a friend or neighbor to test drive the CSA process.