Here is my first ever CSA box (yippee!!!)
- One beautiful head of oak leaf lettuce
- One enormous head of bok choy
- Lots of curly kale
- Two bunches of green garlic
- Red radishes
- Garlic pork bratwurst (not pictured)
My CSA, Brinkley Farms, focuses on produce, however they do occasionally offer flours, eggs, and meat they humanely raise (pork, poultry and beef). They don’t offer delivery (although some do), so I go to the Wednesday Carrboro Farmer’s Market to grab my box. Every week I get an email where I can request customization of my weekly share.
This Wednesday was the first mid-week farmer’s market of the year, and the mood was joyous. I couldn’t resist a hot dog from The Pig’s brand-new cart. The Pig is one of my favorite restaurants here in Chapel Hill, serving “whole hog barbeque, working with the NC Natural Hog Grower’s Association and their antibiotic and hormone-free, pasture raised piggies to bring regional flavors and local ingredients to the party in your tummy.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Between their focus on local, happier meats, interesting takes on old favorites (talk about amazing side dishes), and the fact that the owner is a Chapel Hill native who was trained at the Iowa State meat laboratory, I can’t get over the awesome. The dog was delicious semi-Carolina-style (another one of my current obsessions), with mustard, relish, onion, mayo and slaw (for real Carolina style, add chili, and never ketchup). No guilt here.
I also couldn’t resist this pint of incredibly juicy strawberries from another booth…
But back to the veggies: I’m doubling up on my boxes as I’ll be missing half of this growing season (more on that later), so I get an aggressive “family size” box. I’m not complaining, though, and I’m dreaming up lots of fun ways to use everything up. I am hoping this will be an exercise in creativity — and am planning on requesting at least one new vegetable a week to experiment with.
It looks like this should be captioned “Bok choy… A love story…” 😉
CSA stands for community supported agriculture, where one can purchase a “share” in a farm and obtain local, seasonally appropriate fresh foods directly from a farmer. Individual CSA policies differ (for more information see here and here), so it may take some looking to find one that fits your budget and needs.
North Carolina is particularly blessed in that the Triangle area has an abundance of active farmers and a good network of distributors/markets. A CSA is technically unnecessary, as the farmer’s markets are just that good and you can easily get things a la carte. However, I wanted the chance to really try to build a relationship with a particular farm, and work consistently within the restrictions of seasonality. In addition, I felt like the push of pre-paying would give me better incentive to show up consistently to the farmer’s market — think of it like paying for a workout class vs. going to the gym for alone workouts — because my laziness can easily get the best of me 🙂
To find a CSA or farmer’s market near you, try Local Harvest!