I’ve talked a little bit here on other social media about CSAs being a great source for local and inexpensive produce. Unfortunately, the input from many readers is that they either do not have any CSA programs in their area or it’s still not affordable or not accessible because of transportation.
Let me back up for the people who are sitting there scratching their head, trying to figure out what “CSA” stands for and what it even is.
CSA = Community Supported Agriculture.
A farm or a community garden sells “shares” to members. Each week, members will get a box of produce for their membership fee.
The membership and share fees are typically affordable but unfortunately, most CSAs aren’t set up to accept EBT (food stamps), which makes it impractical for people on SNAP. BUT because CSAs are usually run by very community minded & socially conscientious people, many CSAs will offer sliding scale fees for low income families or will allow people to work for shares. Sometimes if the farm is especially rural, they will arrange a pick-up point within the nearest town or city to make it easier for members to get their shares.
There are CSAs for other things besides produce. Some farms will offer meat ,egg, and dairy shares. Beyond the economically benefits, the food offered is generally non-GMO, local ,and organic.
If you aren’t sure if there’s a CSA in your area, there’s a CSA finder here: CSA Finder
There’s one thing that happens sometimes with CSA shares that can be especially beneficial to low income families. It happens that people don’t pick up their share. They were busy, forgot, couldn’t make it that week…. whatever. Stuff happens. Sometimes people will pick thru their boxes at pick-up and leave behind things they don’t like or won’t use. The CSA managers then have fresh produce they need to figure out what to do with so that it doesn’t go to waste. In some areas, food pantries are not set up to accept and distribute fresh produce, so that’s not an option. Giving it directly to a family who needs it would be the preferable thing to do.
It is definitely worth contacting your local CSA owners to ask if they allow abandoned shares to be claimed by non-members. I would personally at least offer to volunteer to work on the farm or garden in exchange for the privilege of getting first pick at leftovers. That just feels like the right thing to do.
So, want to see what one CSA’s abandonment looks like?
In these pictures are:
- swiss chard
- red onions
- edamame beans
- hot peppers
- bell peppers
- various squash
- bags of various greens -arugula, spinach,romaine,kale
- yellow onions
I managed to get some great meals from these veggies. Lighting is horrible in my kitchen, awful for food photography but some things I made…
Stuffed Acorn Squash
White Bean & Swiss Chard Stew
…and a bunch of other stuff.