It finally feels like spring in New England, and April’s (snow) showers have stepped aside to make way for May flowers. With the extended daylight and rising temperatures, many folks are eagerly heading outdoors in search of alfresco dining. But the change in weather impacts more than our restaurant and ambiance preferences – it also tends to influence our food choices, leading many to forego the comfort foods of winter in favor of lighter fare. This is the perfect time to enjoy the fresh, local produce of the season.
One way you can do this is by participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which is a way for consumers and local farms to connect directly and bypass the middleman. CSA members buy advance “shares” of a farm’s anticipated crop and receive a portion of what is harvested each week during the growing season. For example, May in Massachusetts often ushers in crops of asparagus, salad greens, mung beans, shitake mushrooms, potatoes, scallions and sprouts. Some farms require its CSA shareholders to physically contribute to the harvest by working a certain number of hours during the growing season. Others do not have this requirement, or they make it optional. A CSA may offer weekly pick-up at the farm only or provide multiple pick-up sites for convenience. There are even some employers that offer CSA membership to their employees and provide a location where they can pick up their shares right at work. Oh, and CSA’s aren’t just limited to produce – some farms include options to buy shares of eggs, flowers, honey and other products.
Aside from the ability to enjoy delicious, in-season produce, there are many other benefits to participating in a CSA:
To locate a Massachusetts CSA that works for you or learn about other local food resources, please visit http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/csa_farms.htm. CSA shares often sell out quickly, so don’t delay!