Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Community Supported Agriculture - Week One

If you've read my blog for any amount of time, you'll soon glean the fact that I'm all about supporting my community. To me, that means eating, shopping, buying, patronizing and visiting everything local. I seek out locally-owned businesses before I look at anything else, and I will often and eagerly pay a bit more to ensure that I have put my money right back into the area in which I live.

That said, I have never bought a CSA (community-supported agriculture) share until this year. I frequent farmers' markets and drive out to u-pick farms often, but CSA shares have always seemed unattainable. They are, for all intents and purposes, quite expensive. Being asked to fork out several hundreds' of dollars in one chunk seems difficult. But when you start doing the math and really figure how little that amount becomes divided over 22 weeks, it becomes a lot easier to justify spending that much money.

This year, I asked my boyfriend if he would like to split a CSA share with me. He is very generous, and said that if I was willing to cook him meals from the food I received, he would foot the entire bill. So, I lucked out, and now, every week, I am fortunate to receive about $36 in fresh produce, grains and flours, and fresh sauces and dips from Gee Creek Farm.

I discovered Gee Creek Farm when I went to my local farmers' market a few months ago. I was drawn to them immediately because they offered me a gluten-free and vegan cornmeal pancake, which I gobbled up quickly. It was delicious, and I noticed they sold the mix that was used to make the pancake. As I looked more intently at the different flours and grains they offered, the person behind the table started talking to me about the farm's CSA program, and handed me a flyer. My interest was piqued.

The best part of this particular farm is that I can choose whatever I want every single week. I am not forced to eat everything that is pre-selected for me and stuck in a box. Last Sunday, when I picked up my very first share, I was told that I could pick out about 12 $2-3 items, which included everything I described above. If something I wanted cost more than that, I could pick out 11 items instead. If I wanted to only take home green onions, I could do that, too.

Gee Creek Farm is located 13 miles north of the Portland city limits, and all their produce is certified organic. Just this year, they started the grain milling division, and they also offer an organic food division that includes hummus, a delicious beet salad, fresh salsa, and spicy condiments, just to name a few items.

On Sunday, I picked these items:

It's so many items, so it's hard to tell exactly what everything is, but it includes a unique type of spinach that has curly-shaped leaves, green onion stalks, two different types of kale, green lettuce, hummus, red beet salad, a spicy green sauce made with cilantro and tomatoes, and salsa.

Here is the first meal that I made with this load of delicious-ness:

The red beet salad is on the left, and on the right is an impromptu stir fry that I made up. It included rice, cashews, golden raisins, spinach, green onions, curry, salt and pepper, and coconut amino acids. Nothing beats eating fresh and recently-harvested produce.

Do you have a CSA share? Or do you prefer to get all your fresh produce from the farmers' markets around town?

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