At the suggestion of one of her close friends, my Mom enrolled in a farm share* last year. I instantly became insanely jealous. My Mom was in produce heaven, bringing home bags full of fresh, organic kale, arugula, tomatoes, radicchio (you name it) – in the brightest and realest reds and greens and purples. I anxiously dreaded and anticipated her picture text messages of their haul each Tuesday or Thursday – amazed at the amount of produce she brought home for the low price of about $35 per week. A typical week might include a pound of tomatoes, two heads of kale, four beets (with the greens), a bag each full of spinach and arugula, 2 large eggplant and bunches of fresh herbs. All organic. Suddenly, carrot green pesto and sautéed beet greens and kohlrabi fritters were on my mom’s dinner table, me far away in Boston begging to experiment with the fresh new vegetables from the farm.
I heard of people (mostly my Cambridge coworkers) enrolling in farm shares but never thought it was something I could do. “The vegetables are so weird” they’d say, “So much goes to waste.” I thought I’d need a huge freezer for the veggies I couldn’t eat in time, or a car to pick up the box from the farm, or a juicer to turn the kale into something other than chips – something I didn’t have to make it work.
Watching my Mom go through it on her own (and starting this blog) inspired me to take the plunge. So this year, I did it – I enrolled in my first farm share. Who cares if only cook for myself, or that I’m moving into a studio apartment at the end of the summer sans huge freezer or juicer**, or that I will have to carry a (probably heavy) basket full of produce home with me via public transportation. I LOVE VEGETABLES. Especially those that are organic, fresh, and inexpensive.
I chose to join Enterprise Farms, a family farm in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. My primary decision factor was a convenient pick-up location. Enterprise has a drop off just a few minutes from my office (convenient to me now and when I move into aforementioned studio apartment come this fall). They also have three share sizes – small, medium, and large – to accommodate the wide range of vegetable eaters and family sizes. I elected for a medium share (as I said, I love vegetables), for just under $500 (with an early bird discount). It comes to about $16 per week from June-November – very manageable!
It was hard not to choose Picadilly Farm (pictured here), where my mom gets her share. They have a “Mix & Match” system where you get to choose what goes into your box each week (only if you pick up at the farm) and a great PYO (pick your own) garden. Although they’re located in New Hampshire, they also deliver traditional (pre-selected) shares to the Boston-area. Unfortunately it was just a tad bit too pricey for me, although I know from experience that the quality is amazing and you get more than what you pay for each week. Fortunately I know I’ll be able to visit Piccadilly with my mom (and now my grandma, who caught wind of this amazing farm and signed up for a share this year) when I visit home this summer.
Needless to say, there’s going to be a lot of vegetable experimentation happening in my kitchen starting in June. I’m looking forward to sharing it with all of you! This summer I plan to start a new feature on CLK called Farm Share Friday, where I’ll share what I received in my box and how I put it to good use (or not). If you want to join me on the vegetable adventure, please do! Farm Share enrollment starts early (I sent in my deposit in February, while Boston was buried in a foot of snow), so if you’re interested in joining I suggest finding one soon.
Are you a share holder at a farm? What has been your experience? If you want to join but haven’t, what’s holding you back?
*A farm share, or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is an arrangement where you pay up front to become a member of a farm and receive a portion of the crops each week. The farm does the hard part – planting, tending, and harvesting the crops – and each week, you get a box of vegetables. It protects the farmers by allowing them to sell directly to the people who eat it and plan ahead to farm just enough produce. It brings fresh, organic vegetables to your kitchen.
**I might get a juicer, though. Suggestions welcome.