The very freshest and most delicious fruits, vegetables and other farm products are now just a click away. At www.virginiagrown.com, even city dwellers can reap the rewards of farming. The concept is called Community Supported Agriculture or CSA, and it allows consumers to invest in a share of what someone else’s farm produces. Farms across Virginia are now signing up new members for 2010.
In a CSA, a group of individuals provides financial backing and perhaps some labor as well to support a farm operation for a year. In return, each member of the group receives a share of the farm’s output during the growing season. They share the bounty as well as the risks of harvests that may be affected by weather or other conditions. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has developed a list of CSAs at www.virginiagrown.com; click on Community Supported Farms by Region.
VDACS advises consumers to act now to take advantage of all that a CSA offers. The subscription services are gaining in popularity, so now is the time to explore the possibility of joining, before subscriptions are sold out.
CSAs offer a number of advantages. Members know where all the food comes from, how it was grown, who harvested it and when. They learn to eat seasonally, enjoying foods that arrive according to nature’s timetable. Everything the CSA provides is field-fresh, flavorful and nutritious because deliveries usually take place weekly, and the travel time and distance from farm to fork are kept to a minimum.
Because of the wide variety of traditional, specialty, heirloom or even organic crops grown by CSA farmers, members can discover many new products and enjoy interesting new tastes. To help cooks make the most of their innovative ingredients, CSAs often distribute recipes and cooking tips. In addition to produce such as squash, cucumbers, spinach, eggplant, sweet corn, watermelon, lettuce, beans, peppers, tomatoes, chives, dill, cilantro, cabbage, collards, kale, oregano, broccoli, arugula, marjoram, chard, beets, peas and potatoes, CSA farms sometimes offer extras such as eggs, cut flowers, dairy products, plants, cheese, honey and bread.
For help locating a CSA in your area visit virginiagrown.com or call the Division of Marketing at 804.225.3663.