Today, I have discovered something. I. am. so. excited.
I discovered the meaning of CSA. Do you know what CSA stands for? No? Let me tell you! It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Do you know what Community Supported Agriculture is?? No?! Let me tell you!!
I found a great explanation of CSA on this site. It says, “A CSA (for Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce. By making a financial commitment to a farm, people become “members” (or “shareholders,” or “subscribers”) of the CSA. Most CSA farmers prefer that members pay for the season up-front, but some farmers will accept weekly or monthly payments. Some CSAs also require that members work a small number of hours on the farm during the growing season.”
I began to search the Local Harvest website to see if there were any farms in our area have a CSA organization. I actually went into it assuming that there wouldn’t be any farms that come out this way (most of the farms I’m familiar with are in/near San Diego or are in the Inland Empire). Boy, was I happy to be proven wrong! I found several local farms (whaddya know??) and several farms that are about an hour away, but I found that one in particular delivers baskets to a drop-off location that is about 20 minutes away from where I live!!
This farm is called Morning Song Farm. It’s located in a small unincorporated city called Rainbow, which is sort of on the way to San Diego. They have a great explanation of how their CSA works. As I read, I was more amazed than before. Basically, for a large basket of great heirloom vegetables, some regular and some semi-exotic fruits, nuts, and herbs, it’s $44.50/week. Now, keep in mind that this is organic, local, and truly fresh produce. California definitely has its share of health food stores, but this is an amazingly great price for a lot of value.
I think that this quote from their site presents a very compelling reason to consider becoming a member of the CSA: “Produce in a grocery store is often 14 days old and has, on average, traveled 1500 (unsustainable) miles, losing nutrition and flavor along the way. Having your organic fruit and vegetables harvested and delivered directly from the farm provides a fresher, tastier alternative. The reasons for buying locally-produced food are compelling. These include the benefits of eating fresher, tastier, and more nutritionally intact food, reducing air pollution and fossil fuel consumption through decreased transportation miles, greater variety selection, preserving farmland and open space, and keeping money within the local economy. Grocery store food from half-way around the world can never compete with the benefits of locally grown produce!”
You see, if I had it my way, I’d live on a large piece of land and plant our own mini-farm. I’d like to live as self-sufficient (you know what I mean) and sustainable as possible. But, considering the fact that I live in an apartment with only three small planters in my front yard to spare, all I have room for are herbs, flowers, and maybe a few easy-to-grow vegetables. So….my next best option, of course, would be to become a member of the CSA! All things considered, it comes down to this: 1, fresh, pesticide-free, local produce is important to us as a family, and 2, it is far easier for us to afford becoming members of this CSA than it is for us to continue buying produce like we have been. As it is, produce makes up more than half of my weekly grocery budget. Becoming members will make produce come in at under half of our weekly budget! I love the idea of eating/cooking according to the season. I mean, my favorite cookbook is sectioned off into seasonal meals!
The only obstacle we are going to face is starting off. Morning Song Farm requires that you pay in advance for 13 weeks at a time (or, if you enter at mid-season, they pro-rate the amount). That basically means we need to set aside about $580 to get started. It will take a few weeks for us to set aside that money. After that, however, it’s smooth sailing. We can save around half of our grocery budget each week, and at the end of 13 weeks, when it’s time to pay for the next quarter, we will already have the money set aside.
So there you have it! I am so glad that I came across this. What a relief! And honestly, how fun! I definitely don’t want to give the impression that I think everyone ought to do this – it has to fit in with your family, your lifestyle, your budget, and your priorities – but I do want to encourage all of you, if this strikes you, to check out Local Harvest to see if there is a CSA program in your area!
PS – I just need to say that church was so wonderful today! I am so, so blessed to be a part of what is happening and I am so looking forward to what God’s going to do. Wahoo again!