A little over a year ago I read a blog post that mentioned CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in the context of some mouthwatering food. Unaware and intrigued, I looked it up. Here's a definition from EverGood Farm in Sugar Camp, WI, where we purchased a half-share membership for the summer.
CSA is a social model that connects you to your food, the land, and with those that tend the soil. CSA is an economic model that allows you to place your food dollar directly in the hands of a family farm, a farm you know, a farm that adopts organic practices to respect the health and nutritional value of your food, a farm that reduces the impact of agriculture on the environment. The CSA philosophy creates a food system that adopts practices emphasizing taste, nutrition, local economies and respect for the land.
|EverGood Farm early season harvest. Ignore the bananas. Those are clearly not grown in the upper midwest. :)|
I met Jenny and Brendan, the owners of EverGood, in 2013 at a local Farmer's market. Their tidy display of pristine-looking vegetables drew me in immediately and had me coming back weekly for their bounty of goodness. One week I bought some broccoli, and Mr. Musky declared it was the best he'd ever tasted, resembling nothing to the standard grocery store fare I buy.
The following week I didn't see broccoli at their Farmer's market stand, so I asked them if they had any hidden away in their truck. They regretfully informed me it all went into CSA members' baskets that week.
Well sign me up then, Scotty.
Unfortunately, they were sold out of shares for the season, so I had to wait until this year to partake in their harvest. And I can say, with the utmost confidence, after the positive experience with EverGood I will be a lifelong CSA customer. The variety and freshness of the vegetables is second to none, and knowing that I am supporting an incredible family just miles away brings so much more meaning to and appreciation for the food on our plates. I was mildly concerned that the basket would contain items I've never before eaten. And it did. But I learned that kohlrabi and swiss chard are all together delicious and nutrient-dense alternatives to kale and cucumbers.
|Green Earth Institute late summer harvest|
I loved it so much that I sought out a local CSA in Illinois for the backend of the summer, and was thrilled to find that they still had shares available midway through the season at a prorated price. The Green Earth Institute in Naperville, less than 10 miles from our home, is now our go-to for produce. We didn't miss a single week of locally grown, fresh, organic vegetables.
Since we bought a 1/4 cow and 1/2 pig from a regional farm last year, we determined that we wanted to bring our support even closer to home. Three Maples Farm in Oswego is also less than 10 miles from our house and offers grass fed beef, veal, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, buffalo and eggs. We get 75% of our protein from this farm. Because it's all frozen I can place a large order online, full of variety, and pick it up at a convenient time. But I might get sidetracked by their adorable pet goat, Sugar, who just so happens to be house trained. Or their energetic chocolate lab puppy who clearly never gets any lovin'. Or the owner, Andrea, who is as sweet as pie. Or the pigs and cows and chickens and turkeys who roam around without a care in the world.
Going to pick up the CSA goods or the meat is like a field trip for me. Mr. Musky made fun of me over the summer, saying I'd rather go pick up vegetables than have Christmas morning. And I have to admit...he's nearly correct. It's definitely my favorite errand of the week.
All of this lovely, locally grown, organic food got me thinking. What if I made an entire dinner from local ingredients? Could I do it? Game on. Come back next week for "A Local Dinner."
And a not so local Apéritif.