A Word about CSA Shares

Several have asked me about the cost of our CSA share. I have a few things to say about that, but to get right to the point, you can find out all you want to know at the Working Hands Farm blog. You can see what they grow, how the CSA works, what it costs, and pretty much more than you ever wanted to know about purchasing veggies straight from the hands of the farmers who grow them. That last sentence there is pretty much all I wanted to know about the veggies.

Saving money is not a reason to buy a CSA share, although I'm going to mediate that statement in just a bit. My reason for purchasing a share (something I've wanted to do for years) was to get fresh, organic veggies, grown in a sustainable way, and to support a local farm. If you listened to the Michael Pollan lecture I linked to last week, then you have some inkling of the problems engendered by corporate farming practices. Those practices have been miraculous in feeding our planet's huge population, but they haven't been as healthy as one might hope. It's a trade-off for sure. My own feeling is that I can afford to support sustainable agriculture, and so it's a place I want to invest my dollar.

So here's what got me going on this today. I just spent the morning getting ready to pick up next week's share on Tuesday afternoon. I've done a good job this week using everything in last week's share. Here's a run down:

The ones that are checked off have been used, or will be used. I'll be using the kale in a soup tomorrow. This morning I used the carrot greens and garlic scapes to make a Carrot Top and Garlic Scape Pesto. Garlic scapes aren't new to me, but this is the first time I've actually used them. They are the part of the garlic that grows above ground...the garlic flower, if you will. I'll serve that spread over slices of toasted baguette when I make the soup tomorrow. Don't worry. I have plans for the cabbage and basil as well.

This morning, I made some Carrot Green Chimichurri. I'll admit to being a novice about chimichurri. I'd never heard of it before joining the Working Hands Farm CSA Facebook group where it seems to be a very popular item. If you've never heard of it either, just know that it is used in South American and Mexican cooking. It's a piquant sauce or marinade traditionally used on grilled meat, typically containing parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and flakes of chili pepper. Often, it's billed as Argentine barbecue sauce. However, it can also be served over vegetables. This evening, I'll roast the cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots and serve the chimichurri over the top. This image from Martha Stewart inspired me to give it a try.

Looks yummy, huh? 

Part of the fun of this has been learning from other members of the Working Hands Farm "Farmily" as Farmer Brian likes to refer to us. Those folks are pros, while I'm just a beginner. From them I'm learning the art of using virtually everything, from the cut off ends of things, to stems, to center leaf veins, to tops and whole leaves. Referencing my comment above about not doing this to save money, I'm beginning to think that I might actually end up saving money in the end because I'm using everything I've purchased, throwing away almost nothing.

As I'm writing this, I'm making vegetable stock from all those things I just mentioned, thrown in with the vegetables I found in the crisper that were not yet spoiled, but looking rather tired. I included half an onion, a hunk of ginger, and some other assorted stuff that's been hanging around waiting to make its way to the compost pile. 

Instead, it will now flavor my veggie stock. It's the simplest thing to do. I simply save all the cut off stuff from my CSA share for the week, throw it in a pot of water, boil it, strain it, and freeze it. It'll be used for soups and stews this winter. If you'd like to read more about how to do it, there's a good blog post right here.

We're eating our vegetables in the traditional way, but I'm making pesto from things I never dreamed of. Last night's dinner consisted of this Fettuccine with Asparagus, Beet Green Pesto and Poached Egg.

I served it with Roasted Fennel with Parmesan on the side. The fettuccine had me a little worried because it had me turn the asparagus into "ribbons" with my vegetable peeler. It was really quite tasty, and it mixed into the fettuccine nicely when shredded in that way. (By the way, I substituted linguine because that's what I had on hand.) And that beet green pesto was to die for as a sauce for the linguine, but it would be good spread over toast or crackers as well. Yum.

So, all of that to say that 5 weeks into my share, I'm more convinced than ever that I've made a good decision in joining the "farmily" on this veggie adventure. Ask me again in Week 25 and see if I'm still as enthusiastic.

And just so you know I haven't gone totally veggie crazy, I spent some time on my embroidery this morning. It was time to move my hoop. You can see that most of the right side is done.

Now it's hooped up waiting for me to finish the remainder of the right side.

You'll notice there's been no mention of the housework I need to catch up on. I guess I've stalled long enough. Time to stop having fun and get going.

8 comments from clever and witty friends:

Dana Gaffney said...

I think the whole CSA thing is wonderful, I'm not a cook like you so it wouldn't work for me, but I love how you're figuring out how to use everything.

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I think the CSA is wonderful - lots of healthy foods, love that they list the useage for them. And making full use of all of each item so reminds me of my great gran - nothing wasted for sure, whether for food and even medicinal.

Doreen Auger said...

I had thought about getting a CSA this season but our schedules are so crazy that I'm afraid there would be too much waste. Maybe next year!!!!! Love your stitchery!!!!!

Celtic Thistle said...

Looks like being part of the veggie share scheme is really extending your recipe repertoire Barbara, long may it continue :)

SJSM said...

Being part of a CSA is a great way to expand your palate. We used to split a share with a friend. That worked out great. We no longer belong to one. What I liked the best was getting the veggies at their peak. For whatever reason our local stores get veggies after they've grown past their prime. Ginormous beets, onions, kale, chard etc. the greens are much tougher and not as tasty.. Time to look for another CSA. Oh, our CSAs are year round due to our milder climate. Lots of greens and root veggies during the winter. Summer brings on the fruits, beans tomatoes and a lot more variety.
Enjoy your bounty!

gayle said...

Enjoy all those wonderful veggies! And thank you for supporting your local farmers. It's so important.

Kate said...

Sounds like you made a really good decision on the sustainable veggies, they all look yummy.

quiltzyx said...

Even though I don't cook much, I do appreciate seeing & reading about everything you've been making with your CSA. Plus I've been following the Working Hands facebook page & seeing their gorgeous growing photos too. :)
I like that idea of making stock from the "cut offs/leftovers" - I'm off to read the link now.