Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in New York

Does anyone know what a CSA is? I just discovered these in Manhattan toward the end of this season when it was too late to join. Here is a fantastic resource for CSAs in New York City: I am sure many of you or maybe some have shopped at the greenmarket in Union Square. These days the prices are a bit over the top. I do remember shopping there in the late 1990s when it was more affordable. So what is the answer to acquiring farm fresh local vegetables and fruit as well as selected pastured meats, eggs and dairy products six months out of the year? 1) get in the car and drive several hours to your local farm on Long Island, the Hudson Valley, Connecticut or Southern NJ? 2) CSA!

I don't have a car, much less time to drive out to a farm location. However, the CSA spots are highly coveted and not available yet for the 2008 season. However, I am planning on signing up as soon as they are available.

So again, you wonder - what the heck is a CSA? It is a group of people who basically buy a share of a farm. The farmer will commit to delivering a set amount of produce and or fruit/additional services such as meat or eggs for a set price for 26 weeks. The produce is delivered to a location in New York City (I've seen them in Church parking lots, gardens or just in front of churches) and the members come by and pick up their share. I've seen CSA shares around $325 for a small share (1-2 people). Think about that...$12.50 a week for a bag of salad greens, two leeks, onions, a bag of pears or apples, potatoes, etc. This was just one week I "tried" of the local CSA on the West Side. Granted the pick ups can be a bit difficult to attend (usually from 4-7 - convenient if the location is close to you, not so if it is not) and the "nicer" shares go first.
However, even with the produce that doesn't look so good - the taste is amazing and fresh! The apples also last an incredibly long time and can be made into wonderful applesauce and other treats.

I'm looking for a way to make CSA available to people who don't live in neighborhoods where there is a local pick up. If anyone would like to partner with me to make more CSA locations available in New York or to band together a few farms for a different kind of fresh produce delivery system I would like to hear about it. I will be forming a separate online community through the site. Stay tuned for that in the next post.

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