Saturday, June 25, 2011

We love our CSA!

We have been participating in a CSA this year for the first time.  Here in the US, CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture.   We are participating in the Firsthand Farmers Cooperative.

Here's the CSA blurb from Wikipedia 

"Community-supported agriculture, a form of an alternative food network, (in Canada Community Shared Agriculture) (CSA) is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme, and sometimes includes dairy products and meat."

We're loving our experience and loving the uber-fresh veggies, eggs and butter that we're receiving.  I didn't photograph the first week's share (Asparagus, Mixed Salad Greens (arugula, mizuna, tatsoi, etc.), Spinach,   Buttercrunch Lettuce, Kale), but here are the photos of the other weeks thus far.

Week 2: May 12, 2011.  Clockwise from bottom:  carrots, chard, spinach, butter, thistle honey (bought separately), baby turnips, eggs, lettuce

Week 3:  May 19th   clockwise from bottom: easily identified strawberries, garlic scapes (tops), spring onions, kale, radishes, lettuce mix, eggs & half pound of butter.

Week 4:  May 26th  Clockwise from bottom:  snap peas, asparagus,  lettuce (in bag), spring onions, garlic scapes, chard.  We also got the eggs and butter, but I must have already put them in the fridge :-)

Week 5: June 2nd.  Clockwise from bottom:  butter, spring onions, eggs, beets, garlic scapes, snap peas, lettuce (light and dark), broccoli.  We also purchased 4 quarts of strawberries that day.

Week 6:  June 9.  Clockwise from bottom:  radishes, scallions (green onions),  lettuce, broccoli, kolhrabi, fresh garlic, red lettuce, bok choi.

 Week 7:  June 16.  Clockwise from bottom left:  fresh garlic, yellow squash & zucchini, eggs, blueberries!!!, cabbage, mesclun salad mix (in bag), butter, chard, white onion, red onion.

Week 8:  June 23.  Clockwise from bottom:  Zucchini & cucumbers, new potatoes, eggs, beets, fennel, white onion, tomatoes (grown in a hoop house, this is even early for VA).  This is a typical early summer share.

 It has been neat to try all these lovely vegetables, some of which I've never had (or prepared) before (kohlrabi,  fennel, fresh garlic) or not very often (beets, not in a pickled form).  Many checks on the internet for recipes to include these lovelies.  Lots of tasty recipes including:  Campanelle Noodles with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes from the Six O'Clock Scramble (that'll be a whole other post sometime, we love it too!!!), we made it the same day we received our asparagus and I don't think I'd ever eaten asparagus that fresh.  Wow!!!  It was so good, and I like asparagus normally.   We also made Stir-fried Bok Choi with a Cashew Sauce.  This recipe came from Kathryn Bertoni (of Appalachia Star Farm and CSA manager for Firsthand Farmers Cooperative) in our CSA newsletter the week we got the bok choi.  Yum!!!  It's from:  Asparagus to Zucchini - A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce.  It is put out by the Madison (Wisconsin) Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition.  All of the recipes are from CSA farmers or CSA members.


1/2 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbs. minced gingerroot
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds of bok choi
1/4 cup peanut oil

Toast cashews in a dry skillet, tossing frequently, until lightly brown and fragrant.  Combine cashews, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, and 2-4 Tbs. water in a blender or food processor; puree until smooth.  Set aside.  Wash bok choi stems and leaves well, making sure to rinse away dirt in the ribs.  Separate the bok choi leaves from the stalks.  Cut stalks into 1-inch pieces and roughly chop leaves.  Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add bok choi stems and cook, stirring often, until crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes.  Add the leaves and cook until they wilt and turn bright green, another minute or so.  Remove to a platter and cover with cashew sauce, or serve sauce on the side.

If you like what you see AND you're in the Central Virginia area, there are still openings for Session 2 of the Firsthand Farmers Cooperative CSA which start the week of August 29th.  All the details can be found at the Firsthand Farmers Cooperative website.

Happy eating locally!

PS.  Although it may be too late for this year (especially in places with shorter growing seasons), here are a couple of CSA sites to help you if you happen to live in Quebec or Ontario.  There are Buy Fresh, Buy Local organizations in many areas that can help you find out more about ordering/purchasing from your local farmers.

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