By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
Tomorrow, as you visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, we invite you to consider a different kind of Mother’s’ Day gift: A seasonal CSA share from one of our local farms.
CSA is shorthand for community supported agriculture. A share is like the purchase of stock: It reflects an investment in a farmer’s livelihood in exchange for receipt of a box filled with fresh foods from that farmer each week.
“It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement for everyone,” says Justine Denison, of Denison Farm. “It reconnects people with the land that sustains them while helping to build awareness of our interdependence on each other.”
Denison began offering CSAs in 2005 after the family began farming on land leased from another farmer who Denison recalls growing “the most beautiful produce around.” Inspired by the example, the Denisons have made the distribution of beautiful food via CSAs much of their farming mission on their own land in Schaghticoke.
CSA shareholders pick up their boxes at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market or other distribution sites and then have time to browse and enjoy the market, supplementing their boxes with meats, cheeses, and other foods from other vendors.
“It’s a beautiful arrangement,” Denison says. “People look at the box and start asking questions about how to prepare what’s in there. We respond with recipes and cooking strategies. It creates a connection that becomes long-lasting.”
The connection is sustained as farmland changes hands. The Gomez family now farms the land that the Denison family leased. They too offer CSAs, with an option for either a boxed share containing a predetermined selection of produce or a market share, which gives the purchaser the option of choosing a set amount of items.
Produce farmers generally begin offering CSA shares for purchase through May, and begin distributions in June.
For market administrator Julia Howard, CSAs s take the guesswork out of cooking.
“It’s an awesome option for working families who enjoy cooking and eating healthy and local,” says Howard. “You know that every week you will have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, with the added bonus of supporting a local farmer.”
Farms offering CSA shares at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market are Owl Wood Farm (vegetables), Gomez VeggieVille (vegetables), Elihu Farm (eggs), Clyde O’Scope Farm (fruit and vegetables), and Denison Farm (vegetables).
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at High Rock Park. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check us out on the FreshFoodNY app. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities.