Wednesday, September 2, 2009

farmshare: Notes for the Curious

Yes, yes, I'm one of them; I have a farm share. It's terribly hip of me, I know, but I don't really feel bad about it: Its a pretty awesome concept-- who could say no?

For those unfamiliar, a CSA farmshare is basically like investing in a farmer. You give them money at the beginning of the year to fund the farm, they give you produce as it is harvested. Essentially, I paid $300 in May for a half bushel of produce every week.
This is not a new concept, but it is the first time I've done it. Now that we're over half way through the growing season, the share and I have gotten in to a rhythm, I think, and I've been compiling some notes on the topic.

1. Regardless of the cool-ness of the concept, this is not "special" food. Eat it. Now.
The first couple of weeks, I suffered from special/cool/new disorder-- you're familiar with it, I'm sure-- where I was hesitant to use my share except in the *perfect* recipe--suateeing just wasn't good or clever enough. It turns out though, that unlike your favorite party dress when you were eight, produce does not like to wait around on the shelf for adequately fancy occasions. In fact, very unlike your special-occasions outfit, it will wilt and rot in record time, fast than you really realized was possible, until you've made a hobby and/or drinking game out of swatting fruit flies. Produce is not something to get sentimental about.

2. Creativity takes on new meaning when you get 6 ears of corn a week for a month.
The biggest downside of the farmshare concept is that you don't get to choose what produce goes in your half bushel-- your limited to what your CSA grows, has in season and wants to allot you.
Such as 6 ears of corn a week for a month. To be clear, this is not at all the worst thing that's ever happened to me, just one that required a little creativity. Similarly, I haven't a clue what to do with celery herb (tastes like celery, looks like parsley-- I guess soup?) For as much fun as being presented with a box of fresh food is, it can take considerable efforts in the arenas of creativity and time. I know I'm not the fist person to say this; I had read all about the farmshare-oh-shit-phenomenon before I bought one. Its just one of those things that's hard to fully grasp without having experienced, like hair bands or roller coasters, I think.

3. Your pick-up day matters.
Overall, I do think it's a good investment, but next year I may look in to another farm that offers a more consistent variety of produce and will choose my pick-up day less arbitrarily-- right now it's on Tuesdays, which is problematic since I tend to work ten hour shifts on Tuesday and Wednesday, meaning I can't even think about starting to cook until Thursday, and by that point, things are starting to wilt.


chickenmeatballs said...

We have a farm share as well, through Needle Lane Farm. As far as stuff wilting, we've found that those produce green bags ( do indeed work and are the greatest things ever for keeping your farm shares fresh.

Allison said...

Thanks for the tip! I've always wondered about those... seemed too good to be true- but you've sold me. Right now, I keep my greens wrapped in a wet dish towel in the fridge. It works surprisingly well, as long as you remember to keep the towel wet. As soon as it dries out, they're finished, and remembering things is not my strong suit. :)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I love the green bags suggestion - like you, Allison, I do the wrap thing, but it doesn't always work.

This was a great post - I know the feeling TOO. WELL.

I'm slow roasting a bunch of stuff right now, and planning on making pesto tonight because the basil I picked up from share this morning will not be long for this world.

I also do a fair amount of blanching/freezing, but I have a big freezer, which I'm guessing you might not.