COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE
Andrew Stout Suggests
THE ASIAN WHITE TURNIP
- A bit like a radish
- Can be eaten fresh from the field
- Mustardy, sweeter, cabbage flavor
- Look for it in mid-May
We love green garlic – the early shoots of garlic that arrive in Spring. You can use it as you would normal garlic, but it imparts a more mild, delicate flavor to your dish. You can get it every Spring – but you’ll probably only be able to get it from your local farmer.
It is still a bit early to visit most farmers’ markets, so if you want green garlic and other Spring produce that is difficult to find at the supermarket, you may want to enroll in a CSA program with one of the local farms.
For the record, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The roots of CSA trace back to Europe, Japan, and Chile. In the US, CSA programs got their start in 1986 in New England. The first Washington State CSA started in 1987 at the Root Connection in Woodinville.
City Catering Suggests
- Tender shoots from a variety of greens
- Generally a little more mild than the mature plant
- Kale and Arugula Raabs available from April to mid-May
- Spring Raab Recipe available on Page Two
The big idea of Community Supported Agriculture is to connect consumers to small farms. How it works is the consumer buys a “share” – meaning share of the harvest – directly from the farmer prior to the growing season. By paying the farms directly and early in the year, you know the farm is getting all the money and getting it at the time when they incur many expenses (planting) while earning little or no income.
As the crops start to mature, the farmers start to pick the produce fresh weekly, pack it in boxes or bags, and then deliver it to a drop location of your choosing. When we say pick it fresh, we mean fresh… Whistling Train Farm in Kent picks corn the morning it will be delivered to ensure it is as fresh as possible. You pick up your box and have fresh produce for the week.
Lovely carrots from Boistfort Valley Farm on the South Fork of the Chehalis River
Bostfort Valley Farm offers fresh flowers in its weekly CSA Box.
We spoke with Andrew Stout, owner of Full Circle Farm in Carnation. He said the CSA program allows them to directly provide their customers with “weekly peak produce.” As they have grown, they have developed relationships with PCC and several restaurants. However, their main goal has always been to sell to the end consumer, and 80% of their business remains with the CSA program.
Putting together the boxes is fun. Andrew said they try to put together complimentary produce to provide “healthy, whole, real food.” Customers will almost always receive the basics: greens, starches, and onion/garlic. The seasonal produce and herbs will vary. If they see tomatoes and jalapeños are fresh, they will probably add some cilantro to the boxes for salsa making. And, in case you get stumped on how to prepare those sun chokes in your box, they also include recipes each week.
For us, the CSA program feels good and “right.” Beyond the feeling good, we like that we are eating more local produce. The CSA farms listed here are all within an hour of Seattle. It is estimated that grocery store produce travels an average of 1500 miles before reaching our tables. We also like that we are eating organic produce. All of the CSA farms listed here follow organic practices (for more on certifcation check out the Jubilee or Whistling Train Farm web sites).
We’ve put together a CSA chart to better help you see what is available in the Seattle and East Side areas. Click on the farm names to link to their sites for complete information. All of these farms share a common belief – farm naturally in a way that betters the environment and produces good food… good for the land, the consumer and the farmers.
|FARM||SEASON||COST||BOX SIZE||NOTES & EXTRAS|
|Boistfort Valley Farm||20 Weeks||$550||3-4||Fresh flowers weekly|
|Dog Mountain Farm||20 Weeks||$675||3-4||Draft Horses! Spring and Fall CSA available; eggs; flowers; farm-to-table dinners|
|Full Circle Farm||Year Round||$29/$38/$47 Weekly||2/4/6||Full Circle and other producers; Substitutions allowed; vacation holds; green grocery|
|Growing Washington's Local Choice Food Box||20 weeks||$580/$780||1-2/3-4||Association of 5 farms; you pick the contents of the box each week (11 items/15 items); many locations; most produce for Seattle comes from Woodinville farm|
|Helsing Junction Farm||18 weeks||$450/$650||1-2/3-4||Fresh flowers weekly; storage shares (onions, garlic, shallots, squash) and bulk shares (large deliveries of strawberries, basil, and potatoes) available|
|Jubilee Farm||20 weeks||$600/$800||2/4||Work share program (4 hours/ week for a share); Spring/ Fall/Winter CSA available|
|Lake Cavanaugh Farm||20 weeks||$525||2-4||Produce picked the night before delivery; limited to 25 shares; women owned and operated; volunteer help appreciated; on-line recipe database|
|Local Roots||20 weeks||$300/$400||2/4||Pre-planned absences can adjust pricing|
|Oxbow Farm||20 weeks||$600||4||Oxbow Farm Harvest Fest (pumpkin patch and CSA member party); newsletter|
|Root Connection CSA||21 weeks||$537/$875||2-4/4-8||Winter shares available, Visit the farm for u-pick herbs, flowers, greens; U-pick pumpkins; Children's garden; Oldest Waqshington CSA (1987); on-line recipe database|
|Seattle Market Gardens||22 weeks||$300/$500||2-3/4-6||Collaboration between p-patch trust and City of Seattle; residents do the farming; supports about 100 shares;|
|Tiny's Organics||22 weeks||$924||2-4||50/50 fruit/Veg; many specialty fruits; heirloom veggies|
|Tolt River Farm||20 weeks||$475||2-4||Egg shares available; weekly recipe suggestions|
|Whistling Train Farm||20 weeks||$350/$500||1-3/3-5||Corn picked day of delivery; limited enrollment; u-pick beans and peas; Feed-a-family program; some box customization; Spring/Winter program available|