Growing up in England we ate rhubarb and runner beans from the back garden and picked wild blackberries from bushes along the side of the road. I find it hard to grow much of anything in my garden here – bad soil and hot weather, combined with a not very green thumb make for slim pickings. Thankfully, I’m a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) member!
I picked up this huge box of veggies from Cox Farms in Centreville yesterday. I highly recommend membership in a CSA if you have one in your area. A CSA membership means that you own a share in the farm’s crop, and each week you get your share of whatever is ripe. The food is fresh from the field, local, and, while not usually organic, has not been sprayed with a ton of chemicals. The farms usually try to use natural pesticides. Here in NoVA we’re spoiled for choice. I am a member of Great Country Farms‘ CSA, which sells out every year. I chose Great Country Farms for several reasons:
1. Free entry for the family to the farm, in Bluemont, any time. This is a great deal because there’s a ton to do at the farm but it can get expensive if you’re taking the whole family.
2. Fruits as well as veggies. Some CSAs just provide veggies. I like getting fruit, too. This week (and probably the next couple of weeks) the fruit is strawberries, but during the season we’ll also get pears, apricots, peaches, and apples.
3. I get a certain amount of free U-pick veggies/fruits each week. So when we go to the farm we can pick, say, a container of blackberries or some tomatoes or a bag of green beans.
4. Local pick up. I can’t get to the farm every week and I save about $100 by picking up from the bulk drop site at Cox Farms rather than having delivery to my house.
If you’re not sure a CSA is for you, how about a farmer’s market? There are many in our area, and it’s great to be able to meet the farmer and ask them about their products.
I also use local farms for meat, poultry and milk products. I have them delivered to my house for a small fee from Holy Cow Delivery, based in Strasburg, VA. Polyface Farm in Swoope, VA has a similar program with local drop sites.
Do you buy local? How far have your veggies traveled?