Sharing the Pain as Well as the Gain

Yesterday I picked up my first CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) share box of the summer season with great excitement. We’ve been with the same farm for several years now and I love pick-up day.

We eat a lot of vegetables, so despite the fact that Elena is gone for much of the CSA season, we still get a “Grande” box. It is hard to really characterize yesterday’s box as “Grande.” Even taking account of the fact that it is early in the season (and boxes get fuller every year as we move into the summer), it was more limited than I had hoped.

As anyone in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas knows, however, it has been a very challenging spring. We went from cold (including a snowstorm on April 28) to rain. Lots of rain. Days and days of rain, and very little real sunshine. That makes it awfully difficult to get real growth in the garden.

Purchasing a CSA share means investing in a local farm. We pay a prices for our share upfront without knowing exactly what or how much we’ll get over the season. I have no doubt that each season thus far we’ve made out quite well. But the point is that we go into the season knowing that forces external to our farmers (who work incredibly hard) will affect what we get. If it is a great growing season, we wil get more; if it isn’t, we will get less.

And there is something about that set-up I really like. The idea of not shopping to get the best deal – the most product for the lowest cost. But, rather, partnering with a farm such that we share with them the pain as well as the gain, while nourishing ourselves with healthy organic produce.

And if I didn’t already have enough reason to love my farm, this year they started an Affordable Share Program, in which members and the farm contribute so that lower-income families can purchase shares at a reduced cost.

Have you checked out the CSA farms in your area? To learn more about CSA, see here.