This season, Aldo and I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) at a local New Jersey farm - Alstede Farms. The way a CSA works is you pre-pay for a share of the farm's harvest prior to the planting season, and then you receive your share of the produce weekly. Some farms have separate fruit and vegetable CSAs, but Alstede Farms includes both in their program. The price when we joined in February was $749 for a "half-share" portion, and the season this year runs from April 26 until Thanksgiving. That's 31 weeks, so it works out to just over $24 per week. We talked about it, looked at our food budget, and decided that we definitely spend at least $24 on fresh produce every week. We like the idea of eating local and organic food, and we also like the idea of less trips to the grocery store. There is a local Woodbridge chapter of the Alstede Farms CSA, and every Tuesday we get to drive through gorgeous houses in Colonia to pick up our fresh fruits and veggies, instead of fighting for a parking spot at the busy Shoprite in Woodbridge.
We've been receiving our CSA shares for eight weeks now, and so far we are loving it! The half-share is just enough for us to eat vegetables every day for a week, and for the last two weeks we started receiving strawberries! It is great not to have to think about vegetables when we go food shopping. In the past, we would stand in the produce aisle and I would ask Aldo what vegetables he might want to eat 5 days from now. To which he always responded "ummm, I don't know." Our grocery store trips are much quicker now - we just have to make sure we have rice, pasta, or potatoes and some kind of meat. On the other hand, you do have to be flexible and creative with recipes. For example, this week we got some garlic scapes and a kohlrabi. What in the world do you do with what looks like a bunch of snakes, and a vegetable that looks like it came from Mars? (Hint: I'm gonna figure it out and post about it later)
I would recommend joining a CSA if you want to try a variety of fresh vegetables while supporting a local farm. For more information on CSAs and how to find a local chapter near you, visit the localharvest.org website.