Our family joined a CSA this year. It's something we've been meaning/wanting to do for several years now, but never actually did. This year, we met Jan Libbey with One Step At A Time Gardens (OST) at the 2006 Natural Living Expo and decided to take the plunge.
The CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – concept is fairly simple. It's very similar to buying stock in a small company, except you get your dividends in food, not cash. Members purchase shares in the farm. The farm plants crops, grows them, and cares for them. Sometimes members help out, as well. When the produce is ready, the farm harvests it and divides the bounty among the members. There is some measure of risk, as it's always possible that it'll be a bad year for vegetables, or a tornado will wipe out the farm, or whatever. But the payoff is pretty nice – members get fresh, local, organic foods every week.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a CSA, but we've been pleased so far. We had our first pick-up yesterday, as well as our first member meeting. Our box was not quite full, but it's early yet! We had greens (a few types of lettuce and mustard), radishes, green garlic, and green onions. The box also contained a newsletter from the farm, keeping us informed of what's going on, both at the farm as well as on the local food scene. Communication from Jan and the rest of the crew at the farm seems to be fairly good so far – we have a handbook, there's the weekly newsletter in the box, they keep the website fairly updated, and we've also received a few emails so far.
OST delivers its produce weekly from late May through mid-October at two drop sites in the metro – downtown and West Des Moines. One full share costs $425, and a half share is $250. There are still shares available, so if you're interested, please visit OST and sign up!
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