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Community Supported Agriculture – CSA Programs

One of my top New Year’s resolutions this year is to incorporate more organic food into my family’s diet.  I feel like I have fallen off the wagon lately when it comes to what we are putting into our bodies.  The more I hear about what the effects of pesticides and growth hormones are having on us, I feel it is my responsibility as a mother, and as the main cook in our household, to take charge of what my family is putting into their bodies.

Are you familiar with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in your area?  Or have you heard of CSA?  I have tried in the past to incorporate as much organic into our diets as possible, but sometimes those cheaper prices get me.  Organic produce, meat, and dairy is often quite a bit more money in our regular supermarkets; however, there are ways to save on these items.  This is where CSA programs come into play.

Here’s how it works:
With a CSA program, a local farm offers a specific number of “shares” to the public for the growing season.  You buy into the farm by purchasing a share (which will feed a family of 4) or you can purchase a half-share, if you are not sure about the level of produce you will be using.  Each week (or every other week if you are doing a half-share), you go to the farm to pick up your box of organically grown produce.  Some farms have other designated pick-up spots, if the farm is not in your exact town.

Most CSA’s are geared towards vegetables; however, some include flowers, herbs, and a little fruit.  A share is somewhat equivalent to a paper grocery bag full of vegetables.  You can also purchase fruit only shares through some farms and add-on organic eggs and chicken to your weekly pick-up.

Through the CSA you will get to know your specific farmer and exactly where your food is coming from.  I know that, if I am going to be spending a little bit more money purchasing organic food, I would prefer to know that my money is going to support our local farmer’s.  Most farms encourage families to come out for a visit.  This is a wonderful way to educate your children on the workings of a farm and to show them where the food they eat comes from.  Additionally, if you have a picky eater, they may be more likely to eat the produce they have seen harvested first-hand.  Some farms have volunteer opportunities and gatherings for CSA members as well.

I highly suggest you check out the CSA programs in your area.  Most farms are taking CSA applications for the 2010 growing season right now – if you are interested, sign-up as soon as possible because shares fill up quickly and you might miss out.  Go to www.localharvest.org/csa or click here to find out more information.



Cottage Mama’s Note:  When searching for a farm in your area, do no disregard farms that my be an hour or so away – check them out because they may have an additional pick-up spot in your area.  Also, consider going in on a “share” with another family if you aren’t sure exactly how the CSA program will fit into your current lifestyle and eating habits.
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