No, that’s not a typo — I didn’t mean CSI. That is CSA as in “Community Shared Agriculture” aka “community supported agriculture.” And perhaps this year, we can even think of it as “community shared adventure.”
This is my third year having signed up for a CSA — you can read about my CSA Confession to learn more about CSA’s in general — and each year has represented a challenge. High level, if you don’t already know, a CSA is where people local to a farmer sign-up to support the specific production of local produce (some even do meat etc) that they receive regularly. A large number of CSA farmers are committed to sustainable and organic farming practices which does a lot for my own conscience to know that I’m not only supporting local agriculture, I also know what is (not) going into my food. In most CSA’s, the consumer doesn’t necessarily get to choose what they get each share. Instead, we commit to taking what’s being produced, ready, and seasonal. Indeed, in my first two years, my blog became a culinary crucible as each week I received a “black box” of vegetables and then set out to chronicle my journey through the world of common and mysterious ingredients. You can read all about last year in My 2013 CSA Challenge.
However, this year, I have decided to do something a bit different. Instead of just using the ingredients and becoming immersed in cooking and journaling my creations, this year I have decided make the focus the adventure — that is, the ingredient that is new.
Part of the reason for the change is that my previous challenges tended to become very consuming — and while I enjoyed them, they left me very little room for other writings, other adventures, or just spontaneity. The other reason is that I have also changed CSA providers again this year because my previous provider, Waratah Downs Organic Farms, whom I quite loved last year, literally sold the farm and moved (to Perth) … and so in the process I have switched to his daughter’s farm at Roots and Shoots. And, yes, it does seem like a bit of kismet to hitch my wagon to a farm so closely named to my own blog. While I’m quite looking forward to 2014 with Roots and Shoots, their service model is a bit different in that they don’t have different sizes of CSA boxes from which I can pick: they’re all large. So for those who find this too much food, they instead offer a bi-weekly share (every other week). This will also produce a more reasonable pace for me, I’m quite sure.
This means I will have two weeks to use up the ingredients I get each share — and more time to think about the “surprises” that will surely continue to come. And, for me, it is those surprises that really get the juices going and make the trip to the market so worth it. And if this CSA is anything like last year, almost every week will have some surprise and special ingredient. I remember well last year getting to play with fresh fava beans, shishito peppers, dinosaur kale, garlic scapes, confection squash, fairy eggplant, and pattypans. So that will be my focus this year: when something special shows up, well, I guess we’ll both be focusing on that ingredient for the next few weeks.
So welcome to my 2014 CSA Adventures. Let’s have some fun.
First up is this mystery ingredient — check back in a few days for the recipe that reveal its name … that is, unless you guess it in the meantime. I told you this would be a shared adventure, didn’t I?
I am doing participating in a Vancovuer CSA program (www.farmcity.coop) this year, it’s helping me discover new foods and I am happy to support local urban farms. This week I realized that Chard makes a superior wrap versus a lettuce wrap. It is a bit tougher so it won’t fall apart, it is a bit tastier and has more vitamins and minerals. I am a convert, Chard Burgers are next in line and I think these will work well and I may be able to hold it like a real burger.
That’s great to hear, Terry. I couldn’t agree more. I know the notion of not being able to choose what I was buying each week was a bit uncomfortable — but then I realized, that’s the whole point and how I get to grow. You’re right, in the process of supporting something really great locally, we get to discover new ingredients and are pushed through necessity of using them all up to use them in different ways. Sounds like you’re off to a great start in your adventure. Love the chard burger idea … thank you for sharing.
CSAs give us all sorts of new things, and I love these small sweet turnips.
You’re bang on on both accounts. These sweet Japanese little turnips were brilliant surprise for me … they even made a turnip lover out of me. My only lament is that one bunch turned out to be far too few for my new found appetite for them.
Thank you for contributing.