April 2nd, 2013
With Spring comes visions of tender peas, strawberries, and fresh radishes. Maybe your garden isn’t producing yet, or maybe it’s not large enough to produce all that you want. (But definitely get something planted, even if it’s just basil). Your next best bets for good, organic and locally grown produce are farmers’ markets or join into a Community Shared Agriculture (or CSA).
Either way, you’ll be guaranteed super fresh produce regularly. And you’ll also get introduced to new varieties of fruits and vegetables that you can have fun experimenting with.
A farmers’ market is a physical retail market featuring foods locally created sold in vendor booths, stands or tables. Some vendors sell prepared foods like hummus or sauerkraut, and others just sell tomatoes or honey. Some farmers’ markets are open year round, and others will start to open up now that the weather is nicer. Some markets are open the mornings on weekends, and others are in the evenings during the week.
Farmers’ markets are a wonderful place to hang out as they also usually have street performers and food vendors, and can be a great social activity with friends or family.
Another bonus with farmers’ markets are when your garden starts producing, you can buy only what you need.
The downside is that not all vendors show up ever week, so if you were hoping for something specific, you may be disappointed.
Here is a directory of farmers’ markets in California.
Community-shared agriculture is sometimes also known as community-supported agriculture. It’s a network of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms. CSA members pay at the beginning of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest. Then as the harvest progresses, the members get a weekly box with their part. Some CSAs deliver, and others have pickup sites. Some CSAs include bread, eggs, dairy products, cut flowers, honey, fruit and meat as options.
The downside of a CSA is that you are locked into what they deliver. If you don’t like kale, and you get two bunches, you’ve got to get creative or find a friend who does like kale. Some people love the surprise factor and still others enjoy the challenge of cooking what you have.
The nice thing about the CSA is that they email you what to expect so you can plan accordingly, and fill in gaps with a trip to the farmers’ market where you can enjoy the social aspect. Another idea is to find a friend or neighbor and share the share with them. By alternating weeks, you can still support the CSA and have the flexibility to get other items from the farmers’ market.
Do you want to try some new vegetables this year?