Looking out the window, it doesn’t feel like spring is coming anytime soon. But farmers across Michigan are looking ahead to warmer months, planning crops, and buying seeds. Sooner or later, spring will be here. Now’s the time to join a CSA so you can get just-picked, farm-fresh local fruit and veggies for the entire growing season.
What’s a CSA?
Community supported agriculture is basically a subscription to a local farm’s harvest. You purchase a share and in return, you get a basket of fruit, veggies, and herbs at regular intervals during the harvest season. Usually, this is about once a week. Some CSAs provide extra shares such as flowers.
It’ll be my third season as a CSA member, and I absolutely love it. Here are some of my favorite things about being part of a CSA.
- Supporting Local: You’re supporting a local farmer and their family. Every week when I pick up my share, I get to talk to the person growing my vegetables. It’s so personal and I love that – you really feel like you’re part of a bigger network. Plus, supporting your local food ecosystem is good for the planet.
- Quality: The quality is AMAZING. Things last so much longer than from the grocery store. This is because they’re picked literally the day or just hours before you get them. On the other hand, groceries from the store can sit on a delivery truck or shelves for days or weeks. One time, I forgot about a bag of arugula that I picked up from my CSA. When I found it in my fridge two weeks later, it looked just like it did when I got it.
- Trying New Things: You get to try all kinds of new things. I got to discover the joy of bok choy charred on the grill, something I had never made before I got it in my CSA basket. I made awesome kimchi for the first time with some Chinese cabbage that I never would have bought at the store. It’s really fun to experiment with new foods.
- Seasonal Variety: It’s so cool to watch your baskets change with the seasons. From greens, herbs, and root veggies in the spring to heirloom tomatoes in the summer to delicata squash in the fall, every week your basket reflects the best of Michigan’s seasons.
The CSA I have chosen is called Sunset Harvest Farm, and I could not recommend them enough. You can buy a half share (which is the perfect size for me and my husband) or a full share if you’re feeding a bigger family. You can also add on a flower share. I’m really looking forward to having fresh flowers on my table every week. I asked Sunset Harvest’s farmer, John Denis, why he thinks CSAs are a benefit to the community. Here’s what he said:
“There are so many benefits to joining a CSA! Produce picked that day or the day before has much better flavor and texture than anything in the stores. Small local farms can also introduce you to many varieties of fruits and vegetables you’ve never had before or weren’t aware were native to the state you live in. Most CSAs are small farms using small scale equipment. Between that and selling locally, there is much less pollution being created.”John Denis, Sunset Harvest farm
If you live near Belleville, Westland, or Dearborn, I’d highly recommend Sunset Harvest (they do pick-ups in these three locations). If you’re in a different area of the state, here’s a great guide to other CSAs in Metro Detroit and here’s one that covers other areas of Michigan. Finally, here’s a great site where you can search by location.
It’s so important to know where your food comes from. Joining a CSA allows you to support a member of your community, reduce your environmental impact, and really embrace your state’s local and seasonal produce.