For the past six years, my children and I have gone every Tuesday from June to November to the Church of the Heavenly Rest on 90th and 5th Avenue to pick up our vegetables and fruits trucked in from Stoneledge Farm, a certified organic farm located in South Cairo, NY.
How It Works:
As a CSA member, you purchase a share from a farmer before the harvest begins. The money allows the farmer to cover yearly costs and in return, the member gets a weekly delivery of farm-fresh, local and often organic produce.
My city-bound, farm-deprived children have had a crash course on seasonal eating--tons of lettuce, rhubarb and spinach in the spring, tomatoes and peaches in the middle of the summer and delicious apples, Keruka Gold potatoes and Red Ace beets in the fall.
Occasionally, we will look at our weekly share and feel overwhelmed. How are we going to eat all this? How are we going to cook it? And sometimes, what exactly is it?
- Planning – As soon as you find out what you are getting for the week, make a menu plan. I ask each child to decide a meal for the week incorporating vegetables from the share. Here is a great recipe for rhubarb crumb bars and watch this video on how to make one of my kids’ favorite dishes, kale chips.
- Washing – When you pick up your share, make sure to set aside some time to wash and prepare the vegetables for the week. The leafy greens will keep best if washed, rinsed and dried very well (to avoid rotting) and stored in a plastic container or bag in the refrigerator. We do this because we are more apt to use them during the week when they are all washed and ready to eat. You can also stick a note on your fridge with an inventory of your veggies so they aren’t forgotten in the crisper.
- Freezing –Some weeks you just can’t use everything up. That’s when it’s time to freeze. Freezing berries is easy: Wash and dry the berries and then spread out on a tray. Freeze for approximately 30 minutes and then bag them or put them in container. With greens, carrots, peas and broccoli, blanch them for a minute and then spread on a tray and freeze the same way as the berries.
- Juicing – Of course, there is always juicing – a healthy and tasty way to use up all your veggies. I enlist my children in putting the greens, cucumbers, carrots or whatever else we have from that week into the juicer. They are much more likely to taste the concoctions when they have helped make them. Here is a nice recipe for a green juice and here is a great article on juicing from nutritionist Katherine Pennington’s be-n-balance website.
Local Harvest has information on finding a CSA in your area.
Here’s to a new CSA season and please let me know if you have other good tips for making the most of your farm-fresh bounty!
Francesca Olivieri is co-founder of sage baby, an online eco-friendly baby store offering everything from organic clothes and skin care to furniture. She also runs a green consulting business; blogs for The Family Groove and Scenic Hudson; and contributes to Daily Candy Kids, YogaCity, Citiscoop, and NRDC’s Simple Steps. Please visit her website at FrancescaOlivieri.com.