Providing a healthy, well-rounded meal for your family is essential for most moms. Entering into the busy summer, making sure your family gets enough fruits and vegetables in between dance recitals, baseball tournaments and everything else that keeps your schedule full can be a challenge. Enter Community Supported Agriculture or CSA.
CSA allows consumers to buy fresh-off-the-farm produce directly from a participating local farmer. Consumers can buy a whole share or a half share, depending on your need and how much fresh produce you can eat. You get a box full of whatever is in season, from apples to zucchinis, once a week. This ensures your family’s diet will be chock-full of essential vitamins and nutrients. The only drawback is farms that participate can only sell so many shares, so first come first served.
“I’m all for anyone that supports the local agriculture industry,” says Dan Marzu, an agriculture educator at UW-Extention Marathon County. “I would highly recommend it.”
CSA is advantageous for farmers and consumers. Farmers get some early cash flow before the growing season when interested consumers sign on. They can market their unique products and get to know their customers. Consumers get super fresh, local produce that often can’t be found at the grocery store, and get to learn more about the growing season and their local agriculture industry.
Kat Becker and her husband Tony Schultz own Stoney Acres Farms in Athens, WI. The 150 acre farm is entering its 7th CSA season.
Becker says it’s been a successful collaboration between farm and consumer.
“It’s great because we can communicate directly with people to understand how agriculture works,” she said.
Stoney Acres offers half shares for $315 a season, and whole shares for $500. A full share is about a paper grocery bag and a half. The season is 20 weeks long, and this year begins one week later than usual because of our area’s endless winter and late start to planting.
This year the CSA season kicks off the second week of June. Becker says they always offer at least seven different items per box, but average ten or eleven. Each CSA farm is different.
Stoney Acres also offers a newsletter containing upcoming events and recipes, so customers can visit the farm and learn how to cook some of the veggies they may never have eaten before. For example, Becker says their spring turnip is often a puzzler for new customers. Its texture is similar to a radish, but instead of the radish’s spicy flavor the spring turnip is sweet. They also offer specialized heirloom black cherry tomatoes, which would perish on the long trip to the grocery store.
Though their CSA delivers to several locations in Central Wisconsin, participants can also pick up their produce directly from the farm, providing another unique learning experience. Bring along the kids, and they get a lesson in where food comes from.
To find a CSA farm near you, check out www.farmshed.org, but hurry, many shares are already sold out.