About two months ago, some friends went out of town and let me try their share of food from the community supported agriculture program to which they belong. I fell in love after one week, and knew I needed to try it myself.
A CSA is a community of people who support a farm by paying a certain amount in advance to cover costs and receive crops throughout the growing season. As a vegetarian who has had farm-fresh food while growing up in Iowa, this seemed a perfect fit.
I found out there is a summer growing session for my community’s program. This surprised me, as I figured it would be difficult to grow anything in South Florida in the summer. The information site says the summer session is more restrictive in what will be grown and how it can accommodate its subscribers, as they call members. I would have to go to the farm to pick the food up myself. The produce isn’t as varied as it is during the winter. There are a lot of green vegetables. But the session is shorter so it’s easier to get a feel if it’s a good fit for me, and I like all the foods listed as part of the summer session. I was up for the challenge and excitement of not knowing what I would be getting every week and being a part of the growing-to-eating process.
Last week I had my first vegetable pickup. Living in South Florida, land of endless strip malls, it’s easy to forget the Everglades and preserves are only about 20 minutes west, and farms are even closer. With directions in hand and a curiosity for what would be ahead, Bill and I headed 20 minutes northwest of our apartment.
We arrived at Green Cay Nursery and were greeted by rows of palm trees in different states of growth. I’ve been to nurserys, but never any that grow palm trees. I was already loving it. We followed a dirt road to a tent holding our box of goodies.
At the tent was a board with instructions: Take the box with our name on it, take a bag of greens from the first cooler, exchange something from the box with something in the second cooler if wanted and buy extra food in the third cooler. At the end of the table was a mailbox to put money. Honor system only.
Bill opened the box and said, “Oh, you will not like what’s in here.” I peeked in, and was greeted to a fragrant box full of colorful vegetables. Inside was a big bag of black-eyed peas, some cucumbers, zucchini and various squash. From the first cooler we grabbed a mixed bag of spicy mustard greens and arugula. I was hoping for some eggplant, corn or peppers, but they aren’t ready yet and are expected to come in the next few weeks, if all goes well.
I love not knowing what will be in my share for the week until I arrive, and making fresh food based on what is being locally grown at the time.