CSA Shares, a great option for local produce.

The season for fresh local vegetables is finally here!  After a winter of frozen and canned produce I am excited to see the bottom of my freezer, because it means the change over from soups to fresh salads. Very soon I will be able to harvest much of my families dinner from our garden, but I will not be waiting until my crop is ready to enjoy my first salad.  Thank goodness there are a few great ways to get a share of the earliest harvest.
 
Conveniently located right in Kincardine, the Saturday Farmers Market and Monday Market are back in full swing for the summer. The local road side stands are also filling up with asparagus, bedding plants, early greens and the first strawberries. I try to  make my first stop on grocery day at one of these places.  It’s wonderful to get the chance to met the people who are growing my food. Often the produce has been picked fresh that morning and you sure can taste the difference.  I am grateful that we options like this in our area.  
 
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Albrechts early season large share plus eggs

There is a third choice for shopping locally that is in some ways even more convenient. Community supported agriculture or C.S.A. allows you to own a share of what is produced by a farm for the whole season.  The CSA philosophy is most often applied to vegetable production, but can be used for eggs and meat also.  It began as a way to mitigate some of the risks involved in growing food.  There are two farms that provide CSA delivery to Kincardine, Albrecht’s Family Farm and Ruetz’s Farm.  As a costumer, you purchase a share at the beginning of the season and receive a generous portion of fresh produce each week, that you pick up at a designated location.  In some cases your share can be delivered right to your door.  Purchasing produce through a CSA is more cost effective then purchasing the same products separately and there are some wonderful benefits for both you and the farmer.

 
Farming is a risky business by nature.  For every product a farmer grows, they have invested money for seed, time in cultivation, planting, weeding and harvesting before they can be compensated for their efforts. Once the product is harvested much of it is perishable and there is no guarantee of sale or fair prices.  Product prices fluctuate with supply and demand through out the season.  With community supported agriculture, growers are payed a fair wage for their hard work and they also get the opportunity to know their costumers.  I imagine it is satisfying to know who will be enjoying the fruits your labour each week.  The farm families I have spoken with feel a strong sense of responsibility to ensure their CSA members are satisfied  with the everything they receive.
 
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Weekly farm update

As a share holder you do share some of the risks of farming.  Mother nature provides no guarantees.  If it is a difficult year for tomatoes you my not receive many.  If there is a bumper crop of beans you may end up with enough to put some away for the winter.  In this way it is much like growing your own garden.  Every year is a little different and what did well in a hot dry season will be a poor crop when we get a cool wet summer, but with proper planning every year provides something tasty to enjoy.  Unlike your own garden you don’t get to dictate exactly what is grown.  Most farms will request feed back from year to year to ensure that everyone has plenty they enjoy each week.  It’s a good opportunity to try some food that you may not choose on your own.  Many CSA will even provide recipe ideas with their weekly deliveries.  Being a CSA member is a great way to learn about the farm you are invested in.  Often you have the chance to hear about the trials and joys that are experienced throughout the season.  If you are with the same farm from one year to the next you may get the opportunity to see them grow and improve based on the feed back you offer.  The best part is making one stop to get produce that you know exactly where it came from and how it was grown.

 

As we enjoy all that the summer season has to offer, it’s great to have choices for sharing in the bounty of this area.  Find one that works for you.  You can explore the area’s road side produce stands, chat with vendors at the markets or consider a CSA share.  CSA are cost effective and convenient.  They allow you a one stop shopping for your weeks worth of healthy local produce and a real connection with the farm that produces it.  It sure is a lot less weeding then growing your own!

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A variety of local fresh greens.

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