Time to Sign Up for a CSA!

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Category : About Food Sources, CSAs, Where to Buy Local Food

Photo of Field at Small FarmCSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions are a terrific way to get started in local eating. You buy a subscription or “share” from a farm offering CSA’s in the early spring. In return you’ll get a bag or box of farm fresh food every week, usually from May through September or so. Here’s the list of farms in Whatcom County offering CSA’s for 2010, according to Sustainable Connections’ March newsletter:

Note: If you offer a CSA or know of someone who does that is not on this list, please send me the information (farm name, web site address if you have one, and contact phone number).

The Sustainable Connections article offers more information about how CSA’s work and the kind of options sometimes available. I encourage you to take a few minutes to read it before deciding whether or not CSA might be a good option for you. Also, the Growing Whatcom CSA website has detailed information about CSAs in general, as well as about a group of Whatcom County farms working together to jointly provide an annual CSA program.

Personally, I’ve tried two different CSA programs, and both were a lot of culinary fun. Each week on the assigned day I’d swing by the pickup location. There with my name on it was a box or grocery bag of beautiful produce. It was always a treasure hunt to see what had been included each time. The food was harvested on the same day so was absolutely fresh, and it had been thoroughly cleaned and was ready to use when they gave it to me. Besides meeting the farmers, I also met other subscribers and enjoyed some interesting conversations.

Most CSA’s include a few unusual varieties or vegetables occasionally besides the standard fare of lettuce, broccoli, carrots, etc. It’s a good chance to try something new. Last summer the highlight for us was Dragon Tongue beans. Besides their beautiful exotic appearance, they were probably the best snap bean I’ve ever eaten. In fact, I’m planning to plant some in my garden this year. You can buy heirloom seeds for them from Uprising Seeds in Bellingham (see previous link).

If you’d like to participate in a CSA, act soon. Each farm has a limited number of subscriptions available.

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Comments (3)

We had an awesome CSA in our Ashland days that delivered weekly to our front porch and always included a bouquet of flowers.

Your listing includes less than half of the CSA share programs in Whatcom County. Simply defaulting to the members of Sustainable Connections, those who are part of the co-op and/or Bellingham Farmers Markets, and those who are “Certified Organic” misses a great deal of local connections. Quite a few of us don’t have much truck with the USDA, the co-op or Sustainable Connections. The farmers markets also charge very high stall fees and thus keep many farmers out.

The REAL alternative is to go out to the farmers and buy food directly. If you really want to be a locavore site, more research on sources is needed. We have to change the modern business model, which depends on farmers doing all the marketing and transport. Your site COULD be an alternative, but right now it seems to be just another offshoot of resources already out there.

Thanks, Walter. I’d be happy to add any CSA’s being offered. I can only let people know what I know, and I’m well aware there are plenty of farms offering products that I know nothing about. One of the goals of this site is to provide a non-membership forum where anyone can be listed.

Obviously I can’t just go down the County roads from farm to farm looking for resources. I need help from people like you who have information they’d like shared. Please pass the word to like-minded farmers that this web site is meant to help them, too, if they’ll contact me with information about what they’re doing.

I’m also very aware of the biases against small farms built into the “Certified Organic” regulations. I hope to do an article about that soon. Doing the research takes some time, and this web site is just getting started. I’ll get to be the resource you’re hoping for, I promise, because that’s what I want, too.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.