Author: ingoodheartfarm

CSA

Is CSA Right for You?


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 CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture,” and is just one of the many ways customers who believe in “real, transparent food” can support a farmer.

But it’s not the only way.

What’s the difference between supporting a farmer through a CSA versus a roadside stand? Or a farmer’s market?

This write up is adapted from Corinna Bench’s post at her Shared Legacy Farms site here.

Why would a person consider signing up for a CSA instead?

These are great questions. And everyone who considers joining a CSA should be asking them.

The reality is that CSA is not a good fit for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel bad if it’s not a match for you.

The CSA customers who come back year after year are a “certain kind” of customer. Not a “better customer” — just a certain kind — the kind that matches the unique format of a CSA model.

It’s best to go into the decision with your eyes wide open, and see if your expectations match the experience that a CSA will give you.

To help you decide if CSA is right for you and before you sign up for this seasonal commitment to a specific farmer, ask yourself these 6 questions….

Q1: Is the relationship to the actual farmer important to you? (Do you want to support a farmer?)

10.6.17 ben with daikon, by anneliese

Here’s farmer Ben with his daikon radish harvest. Photo credit: Anneliese Marvelous

Effective CSAs focus on the farmer-customer relationship as much as the product.

In fact, in our surveys of current members, we find again and again that the number one reason for joining a CSA was to support a local farmer.

CSA members want to be able shake the hand that feeds them.

There’s something rewarding about knowing you are doing your part to support a local farmer.

Call it satisfying your “food conscience.”

CSA is a mechanism you can put into your weekly routine that allows you to access great-tasting food, knowing there’s a real farm family’s livelihood depending on it.

This means that you are committed to staying with a specific farmer through an entire season, come thick or thin.

Inherent in this arrangement is the understanding that there is a risk. Mother Nature may send too much sun or rain, bugs or disease, and a certain crop or crops may not appear in your share that summer.

On the flip side, there may be a bumper crop of tomatoes or cucumbers, and you’ll be swimming in cucurbits.

CSA members live with and embrace this reality every day.

Their motivation for supporting the farm is just as much about having the back of the farmer as it is about getting the full financial value of their share.

Make sure you read that last sentence again… it’s kinda huge.

But this relationship goes both ways.

5.22.17 helping papa harvest kohlrabi

Farmer Ben with daughter, Abilene, harvesting kohlrabi. We share lots of pictures of our farm family with our CSA members to keep them connected to what we’re doing out in the garden every day. Photo credit: Patricia Parker

When you join our CSA, we will make an attempt to cultivate a connection with you too. This means

  • We learn your names and work hard to make the “big CSA” feel like a small family.
  • We plan events to get you engaging with the farm, like our annual Spring Planting Party & Potluck, pick-your-own opportunities, and our annual OctoberFeast.
  • We try to add value to your life, by teaching you about their food’s story, or how to prepare it.
  • We do things to help you succeed at eating their food, like offering recipes, a private Facebook group for sharing recipes & ideas, and workshops.

This doesn’t mean you have to take advantage of these connecting points. But when you do, your CSA experience becomes more rich for both you and the farmer.

This relationship experience is part of what you are paying for in a CSA arrangement.

Q2: Do you value having quality vegetable ingredients that actually taste good?

3.21.16 csa share

You know what a garden tomato tastes like, but have you ever had a garden carrot, or radish, or sun-warmed strawberries? Photo credit: Jackie Jones

Cardboard tomatoes in the winter.

Blah.

If you’re a CSA prospect, you know this frustration well.

Taste matters. Because you know that putting together a terrific meal in your kitchen isn’t just about your skill.

It starts with the ingredients.

The second most important quality of our CSA “masters” (people who “stick” with CSA) is that they love food. Real food.

Food that tastes like it should, because it’s grown in quality soil.

In fact, CSAs often create food snobs, because customers finally experience how a carrot should really taste, and they cannot go back to the watered down version called “baby carrots” at the grocery store.

If you really love cooking and you really value taste, then you will LOVE being in a CSA. Because CSAs are all about providing high-quality, artisanal vegetables that make your home dining experience feel like an event.

You’re paying for that taste experience when you join a CSA.

If you’re just looking for a basic celery and carrot at the cheapest price so you can make an iceberg salad — this is not your gig.

7.22.17 applesQ3: Are you willing to try new foods? (Really?)

CSAs will push you to try new foods and explore variety in your kitchen.

Read between the lines here: You will discover new veggies you love, and you’ll discover new veggies you hate.

Part of the CSA experience means getting exposed to a wide variety of vegetable cultivars. We put veggies in your box that you may have never seen before, and we teach you how to eat them.

Look let’s face it:

We know that if left to your own devices, you would never purposely put a kohlrabi in your box (that is, until you taste one!).

(Or would you? If you would then you would definitely click with CSA).

It’s all part of the great goal in CSA of developing food diversity and teaching our communities (and our kids) how to eat seasonally again. If you want to grow in the kitchen, you have to push yourself to try new ingredients. But also know, we offer “pick one” options & a swap box so you’re never stuck with veggies you absolutely don’t like (bu we do ask that you try at least once!).

tatsoi

Check out that beautiful, fresh, delicious tatsoi. Haven’t had it? You’re missing out! Also, I spy a cabbage worm. If the bugs like it, you know it’s good. Haha. But really, our produce is organic, y’all. Photo credit: Patricia Parker.

Q4: Do you need control in your menu planning?

CSA members have to learn to be flexible with their menu and make things work in the kitchen, because you often don’t know what you will get in your box until a few days before the pick up.

Some people love this spontaneity. Others will be stressed by it.

Think hard on this:

Are you willing to give up some control over what goes in your box? Or do you need to live by your plan?

If you’re someone that wants to have spinach lasagna on Wednesday, and your share doesn’t have spinach that week, will you be upset that you have to go elsewhere (or, better yet, substitute your spinach for something else, like kale or arugula) to supplement your CSA share contents?

If so, then you may be better off buying from the grocery store or farmer’s market retail stands.

CSA works best for customers who see their kitchen as a creative space, and our vegetables as the “paint” for their canvas.

They can handle the spontaneity required and are willing to experiment with new ingredients to make old meal templates come alive in new ways.

Q5: Are you willing to work at eating the CSA way? Patience, my apprentice. (It’s a marathon, not a sprint to the finish line).

CSA takes time to see results. We have customers that have been with us for over 5 years, and they all say it took about 2-3 years before they learned how to consistently use the share’s full contents.

That means you will waste some food on the front end, as you go through your learning curve.

Come into this experience with an adventurous spirit, and go easy on yourself if you fail to eat the entire share every week at first. It’s really hard to do, especially as a rookie to the system.

There will be many weeks when you have best intentions to be a super-chef and maximize your CSA tasting experience… and then real life sets in, and you find yourself simply eating the broccoli raw with ranch dip.

It can sometimes feel like you’re “failing” in your original goal to change the way you eat.

Realize that if this is your goal, it takes time to learn the skill sets. (Don’t worry, we’ll teach them to you). Set realistic goals the first year, and work your way into it.

Also realize that in this journey to kitchen mastery, you’re going to waste some food, especially in the first learning year.

This is a really hard reality for some to face.

Either you don’t get home to make dinner in time because your life is hectic (so the veggies rot)…

…or you end up eating take-out several times a week because you’re playing chauffeur to your 3 kids (so the veggies rot).

Like all paradigm shifts, it takes time to develop new habits and learn how to eat nimbly.

If you are committed to learning how, you can do it!

But it may take a few seasons before you feel like you’ve got it down.

Do you have the staying power to “work” at CSA?

Q6: Are you looking for a “deal”? Are you comparing CSA prices to the grocery store?

People who fully embrace the CSA model don’t look for their membership to be a “deal” or a bargain.

And they don’t compare the CSA experience to the grocery store price table.

Read that again. This is a really key point.

It is absolutely understandable to ask, “How much does it cost?” And to then weigh the pros and cons.

Supporting a CSA financially however is not just about doing a cost analysis of each vegetable you receive in your box and comparing it to what you’d pay at Kroger or Costco.

Our vegetables have added value because every one of our vegetables is telling a story.

Not just the story of how the food was raised, how it was harvested, or what struggles it faced to come to your plate.

Not just the story of the farmer and how you help them live out their calling to the land.

Every vegetable is also telling YOUR unfolding story.

Our vegetables become a means to an end: they showcase your journey with food.

They are the starring attraction in your quest to master your kitchen space and prepare a delicious meal to rival any restaurant fare — a meal you can be proud of.

This is not something any grocery store can give you.

CSA customers appreciate this added value of our product, and are willing to pay a premium for it.

So if you’re saying to yourself, “Well that’s more than we’d pay at _____” ~  you may want to hit the pause button.

Just sayin’…

How’d you do?

Did you pass the quiz?

Remember, CSA is just one model out there for getting fresh farmer food onto your table. For those who value the story, the journey, and the farmer relationship behind the food, it can be a great option that can change the way you eat forever.

But there’s no shame in passing on CSA and instead buying weekly from a farmer’s market.

And that may in fact be a better fit to your style or needs.

We do both, so we just want you to be in the right fit.

As in all things, expectations determine how you experience the product. To set you up for CSA success, make sure your expectations align with the philosophy of CSA before you commit.

Bynum Front Porch Christmas Tree 11.26.16If you think you’re ready, here are your next steps:

1. Head over to the Sign Up Link.

2. You’ll get a confirmation email from us.

Join the movement.

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ramblings, Uncategorized

So much to say, so little time


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Hi folks out there in internet-land! While we’ve kept our presence strong in the real world, Facebook, Instagram & in emails to our members, we’ve been fairly negligent when it comes to this website & its blog. I will work to remedy this, but understand this optimism is often a product of January weather & day length.

One of our long-time members has offered to help us with some of our site formatting issues. I’m guessing they will be really easy for him, while they’ve been things I’ve struggled to remedy for a couple of years now! Things like consistent font & formatting & the ability to edit something basic like changing the typo “welome” on our HOME PAGE to “welcome” – you’d think this would be an easy task, but you’d be wrong. At least if you were me. Or Ben. Ha. We hope to have some of these basic annoyances fixed soon. After that, I’ll work more on content as much as I am able. The kids are currently 15 months & almost four and a half. So it’s a little hard to get much computer work done & this isn’t the kind of thing I want to work on from my phone.

Anyway, there’s SOOOOOOOOO much that’s changed since my last blog post & I hope to be back soon to tell you more about it. In the meantime, please follow us on Facebook & Instagram.

Best,

Patricia

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Our CSA Share: 1.23.15


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Grabbing the Gusto

Our winter CSA from In Good Heart Farm began this week. We’ll get a share every other week through mid-March, and boy oh boy was it a good haul.

Our CSA Share | Grabbing the Gusto Our CSA Share | Grabbing the Gusto

Beets

Last week, I roasted beets that I had peeled and chopped into wedges. After they came out of the oven, I tossed them with a balsamic vinaigrette, shaved pecorino cheese, parsley, chives and orange segments, juice and zest. They were delicious. But, they were even better when I piled a bunch of them over chopped avocado. Wowsa. I am having that for lunch again.

For the greens, I’m going to wing it and sauté them or follow this simple recipe from Simply Recipes. We’ll either have them as a side for dinner or maybe I’ll put them in a quesadilla with some feta cheese for lunch. If you have an idea for…

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Our CSA Share: 2.6.15


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If you still have some veggies left over from last week’s CSA share, check out Deirdre’s ideas for those veggies. They all sound delicious.

Grabbing the Gusto

It’s the second week of our winter CSA from In Good Heart Farm. We’re getting a share every other week. Here’s what I’m thinking about doing with our bounty.

Our CSA share from In Good Heart Farm | Grabbing the Gusto Our CSA share from In Good Heart Farm | Grabbing the Gusto

Kale

I haven’t made a Caesar salad with kale in quite a long time and just looking at the photo of the kale and romaine Caesar salad in this two year old blog post of mine is making me hanker for one.

If I go in the completely opposite direction, this gnocchi with butternut squash and kale from the Food Network looks pretty darn tasty.

Collards

Last night I made a variation of my creamed greens with the collards. I added mushroom, onion, red bell pepper, carrot and poblano pepper. They passed the “so-good-I-have-to-blog-about-it” test with flying colors. Stayed tuned for that.

The last time I had collards in…

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Our CSA Share: 1.16.15


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More yumminess from Deirdre!

Grabbing the Gusto

It’s the last week of our fall/winter CSA from In Good Heart Farm, but the winter CSA begins next week so we’ll still be in the green, and red, and black, and orange…

Our CSA Share: kale, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, beets, Brussels sprouts, black radishes| Grabbing the Gusto Our CSA Share: 1.16.15 | Grabbing the Gusto

Kale

Last night, for the second time, I made Braised Chicken and Kale with Paprika and White Wine from Sweet Sugar Bean. This time I made it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs and smoked paprika. Oh yeah, it’s a keeper.

Another recipe I love but haven’t made in a while—Sautéed Kale with Beans and Pancetta from Italian Food Forever. I usually use cannellini or Great Northern beans and add slow-roasted grape tomatoes. You could add sausage or fish to make a one-pot dinner.

Cabbage

I think this Fish Taco Cabbage Bowl from Kalyn’s Kitchen sounds so refreshing in the midst of winter.

Brussels sprouts

The next time…

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Smoky Sweet Potato Cream Pasta with Sausage and Kale 


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We haven’t tried this yet, but you bet we will soon!

Grabbing the Gusto

An irresistible pasta recipe made with chicken sausage, kale, onion, garlic, smoked paprika, thyme and chipotle in a sweet potato “cream” sauce.

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For the past few years, I’ve resisted massaging kale. But I’m okay with it now.

I had my first kale massaging experience thanks to this pasta dish inspired by a recipe from How Sweet It Is. It’s been a big hit in our house. I have to say, I’m surprised because I didn’t think a sweet potato cream sauce would go over well but it did. I knew I would like it, but then how can you not like this combination of flavors – sweet potatoes, sausage and kale. Sounds like a soup I made recently. And a gratin – minus the sausage.

You can go two ways with this recipe – make crispy kale for a topping or sautéed kale to mix in. Or you…

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Asian-Style Black Radish Sauté


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Lots of folks tell us they don’t know what to do with radishes. Here’s one yummy way to use them. Seriously. Try it. You’ll love it.

Grabbing the Gusto

A quick Asian-style sauté of black radishes with red bell pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes, cilantro, mirin rice wine and sesame oil — this recipe would work well with other types of radishes too.

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I was never a big radish fan. Even though we always have radishes in our nightly salad, if Jim didn’t like them so much, I would never think of adding them. I used to always eat them but I could have lived without them. It’s not that they’re bitter—I like bitter flavors, but radishes always left me feeling “meh.” Supermarket radishes, that is.

Then we started getting radishes in our CSA share—regular red radishes and watermelon radishes. Now, I got why people like radishes. It was like going from canned sliced black olives (aka washers) to oil-cured Moroccan olives. What a difference. Finally, flavor! And moisture!

After the run of watermelon radishes, we started getting black radishes…

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Ham Bone, Beans and Greens Soup


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Another yummy one from Deirdre 🙂

Grabbing the Gusto

Ham bone (and ham), beans, sweet potato and greens soup — a big bowl of tasty comfort that’s a perfect recipe for a chilly day or night. Don’t have a ham bone? Sear some slices of ham instead. Mmm mmm good.

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It all started with a ham bone. As soon as I saw Jim taking a ham out of a grocery bag after Thanksgiving, I claimed the bone. At first, I planned on making Hoppin’ John soup for New Year’s Day. But since New Year’s Day is also Jim’s birthday, I made what he wanted for dinner: corned beef and cabbage.

Ham Bone, Beans & Greens Soup | Grabbing the Gusto My ham bone after cooking in the soup. What a beauty, huh?
Ham Bone, Beans & Greens Soup | Grabbing the Gusto

This week, I remembered the bone I had stashed in the freezer and decided to make soup. I started with the usual soup base of onion…

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Kohlrabi and Friends Sauté


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I love the title of this recipe, “Kohlrabi & Friends” Cute. & it sounds delicious!

Grabbing the Gusto

If you’re looking for a recipe for the kohlrabi in your CSA share, this is a good place to start.

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I bet most of the Google searches for “kohlrabi” are made by people who just received a few in their CSA share. It’s been one of the unexpected culinary delights of our CSA experience – tatsoi is another one.

Kohlrabi | Grabbing the Gusto Kohlrabi | Grabbing the Gusto

Kohlrabi has an easy-going, slightly sweet flavor and a crispy, juicy texture that works well raw or cooked. Cut away the little stem bases on the sides and peel the tough outer and less tough inner layers. Grate or slice it into salads and slaws, roast “fries” or add it to a sauté. Save the greens! You can cook them like you would any other greens.

I started looking for a kohlrabi recipe the other night but then decided to clear out the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer…

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CSA email, fall, farm update

Fall/Winter CSA Week #1 (originally written 9.23.14)


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Hi folks!

Elliott & Grandma taking a break from the dairy.

We’re baaaaaack! I hope you are all ready to get the season started. We are :). I’m going to cut it short today, as we’ve been up since 2:30 a.m. to get to our 6:30 a.m. flight to Boston from Barrington (with enough time to drop off the rental car, take the shuttle & check in a bag). We got back to the farm, ate breakfast with my parents & just finished our farm walk to see what we would have available for members for our first week of the Fall season. I figured I’d better go ahead & write the email now while my brain seems to still be working on the 45 minutes of sleep or so I got last night ;). Sooooo, to get to it, here’s what you’ll see in your shares this week:

– eggplant

– tomatoes

– okra

– sweet peppers

– chiles

– kale

– tatsoi or bok choy (this may be in the form of a “pick one” or it may be one or the other, depending on the day of the week of your pick up)

– lettuce

Large shares will also see:

– dandelion greens (these are legit – they’re not the chicory of last year)

– senposai (this is sometimes referred to as Asian collards, but I think this must be only because of their appearance because they are tender & taste nothing like collards, to me at least – they are super tasty regardless) 🙂

– French breakfast radishes

Can you believe it’s Fall already!?!?! Yummy yummy green goodness! I’m so happy to have them all back :). & I’m not tired of peppers or tomatoes or eggplant yet either, so I’m happy for that too.

We’ll see you Tuesday (at Five Points 4:30-6:30pm), Wednesday (here at the farm 4-7pm) & Saturday at WWFM (8-noon). Have a fantastic week!

Best,
Patricia

P.S. Please send along any recipes you think would utilize these ingredients well & I will share them with everyone. I will also work on finding some good ones for you for some of these items. & those of you who are newbies, don’t worry. I’ll be at the pick up sites to talk about these items & what you can do with them. I know you may not have heard of some of these things, much less have cooked them before.

​Elliott loves cows, as lots of you know. He seriously woke up one morning & said “Moo” before he even opened his eyes. When I asked, “What did you say?” He replied with, “Go see cows!” This kid.