When I mention that I'm a member of a CSA, people often ask what the heck that is. CSA is the abbreviation for Community Supported Agriculture, and it describes a program or a relationship with a farm where the consumer pays upfront for a share of the produce throughout the season or year. Every CSA program is slightly different, but what they all have in common is that they connect you in a very tangible way with the farm and farmers who grow your food.
There are now several CSA programs in Santa Barbara County, and though I'd like to be a member of all of them at the same time, that would be a little challenging even for me. So I think I'll have to try them out one by one. Currently I'm happily a member of the Shepherd Farms CSA. Membership is $300 a quarter or $1,000 for the full year. If you go to the farm in Carpinteria, you can pick out what you like or you can arrange to pick up a box of preselected items at Backyard Bowls in downtown Santa Barbara. Either way it's $25 worth of produce and it varies according to the season.
The picture above is what I picked out at the farm this week:
1 bag of Shepherd Salad Mix
1 bag of spinach
3 small yellow onions and 2 white onions
2 heirloom tomatoes
1 basket of strawberries
a bunch of basil
a bunch of kale
a handful of carrots
lots of little yellow zucchini
a large bowl of thin green beans
a large bowl of dried white beans
You can see that you can get quite a bit for $25. And what will I do with this bounty of produce? Well, this week the tomatoes and avocado will get used with the salad mix for a few salads. The strawberries will get eaten with breakfast or as a dessert. I'll use some of the beans, carrots, onions, kale, green beans, zucchini and basil for a minestrone soup. The veggies that are left over will probably go on top of pasta on a couple of nights this week. And then it will be time to go pick up next week's batch!