Wednesday, November 9, 2011
My CSA Experience
Last spring I joined an organic CSA (community supported agriculture) by purchasing a full vegetable share. Vegetables are gluten-free, and these were organic and local so what could have been better?
The farm delivered a bountiful selection of greens, herbs, cucumbers and zucchini in June and July. I learned what a garlic scape was and discovered that they were excellent grilled or sautéed and thrown into a pasta sauce. Part of the fun was chatting with other people at vege pick up to find out how they were going to use some of the more esoteric greens, or the four pounds of cucumbers.
I was eagerly anticipating the deliveries slated from late August through November. I knew I would be receiving lots of tomatoes, kale and a huge selection of root vegetables.
My last delivery in August included these sweet little yellow tomatoes and some baby kale. I grilled up the tomatoes that were left, but most of them were eaten straight from the basket. I made kale chips and they were a huge hit. Have you ever tried kale chips? Honestly, they are addicting. Plus,they are so easy to prepare...a little toss with some olive oil, salt and your choice of spices and bake them on a cookie sheet until crispy.
I was getting ready to receive potatoes, turnips, parsnips, butternut and acorn squash. I think these make the best side dishes for weekday dinners and I had been clipping recipes using purple potatoes, red potatoes and butternut squash!
Tropical Storm Irene changed all of that in a week of disastrous flooding in upstate New York. Almost every sleepy, winding, pokey, little brook became a raging river full of class three rapids! My organic farm in New York was totally flooded and destroyed by the storm. Once the waters subsided, the rivers left behind a sludgy layer of “yuck.” The FDA said this produce could not be harvested and sold, it must be destroyed.
For the farmers of this CSA, that news was devastating in more ways than one. The investment of a share in a CSA is plowed into that year’s harvest, so the money was spent. It’s also fairly complex to get organic certification, and I do not know what that layer of muck does to the future of that farm.
I certainly did not expect a refund for any unfulfilled portion of my share, nor did anyone in my community. Weather and bugs and all sorts of risk are part of farming and I knowingly took on that risk when I purchased a share. Who would have thought a costal event, like a hurricane, would wreak havoc all the way up through Vermont as it waned to a tropical storm? Who could have predicted a huge snow storm two days before Halloween? Wacky stuff.
I am sorry not to receive this produce, I had a lot of gluten-free side dishes planned! For now I shop the farmer’s market and enjoy their fall produce. I feel so sad for the owners of that farm, but I look forward to trying a share in a CSA again next year. I have to hope the weather won’t be so weird.