By Emily Meagher
This time last year, we learned that a secure food supply could suddenly turn into shortages. Buying from local farms, which have a much shorter supply chain, is a great way to be assured of getting freshly harvested, quality food. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) provides an even better guarantee.
By purchasing a CSA, customers make an early investment to help farmers get their season started, quite literally giving them seed money. Then, CSA members reap the harvest season’s benefits by receiving produce at a discounted price. Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s Wednesday and Saturday outdoor markets, which begin in May, will offer several CSA options.
Owl Wood Farm is one of the farms offering CSA subscriptions. They have traditional ‘Box Shares’ that run for 20 weeks, starting in June, for $450. Each share has a salad green, a cooking green, a root crop, an herb, a type of onion, and seasonal items, like strawberries, beans, or summer squash. The ‘box share’ is an excellent option for weekly shoppers who like variety and enjoy creative cooking. A second option is the ‘Market Share’: customers get “Owl Bills” to use at the farm’s stand whenever and for whatever they want. Any prepaid dollar amount over $200 receives a 10% credit added to it. Customers may purchase shares on Owl Wood’s website or learn more at the market when they return in late April.
Gomez Veggie Ville is also offering vegetable CSA shares to customers this season. Shares last for 24 weeks and consist of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Full shares include 8-10 items per week, depending on the season. Half shares have 4-5 items per week. Customers can opt for pre-packed boxes at $600 (full share) or $300 (half share) or choose the pick-your-own option for $650 or $325, respectively. Gomez Veggie Ville is already taking sign-ups at the Saturday farmers’ market. Contact them by phone (518-686-5212) for more information.
Other farms offer more specialized CSA options, like 518 Farms’ mushroom shares. Customers are sent a rotating list of available mushrooms two days before market day and can choose their mix to pick up on Saturdays. There is a small (½ lb per week for $140) or large (1 lb per week for $260) option; both run for 13 weeks. For more information, visit 518 Farms’ website or inquire at the winter market.
This week’s recipe: Swiss Chard and Kale Gratin