Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Oh, Say, Can You CSA? Week 10

Though our CSA farm is about a half-hour drive away from home, My Wonderful Parents and I always enjoy our Wednesday drive to claim our week's produce. It's wonderful to get away, even for so brief a time, and to see the rolling countryside around us.

I also learn something new about my friends' farm every week, either from the Lady Bountiful's happy talk about their produce and their progress or from just looking around.

This week, they had their roadside farmstand set up, with surplus produce set out for sale. It delighted me to no end to see these signs prominently posted. I don't know if the local farmers' market is quite so forward-thinking, but I'm thrilled to know that my friends are willing to make their produce available to people with lower incomes in this way. It's definitely a step in the right direction toward making good healthy food available to all.

And remember what I had said about the New Hampshire farmstands I found on my vacation? Well, turns out that my CSA farm also runs their farmstand on the honor system -- and has clear signage about leaving containers to be reused! Maybe there are more farmstands in the area that handle business this way, but I like to think that my friends are more thoughtful than most.

When we arrived at the farm, a handful of other CSA members were waiting for their produce, so I left My Wonderful Parents at the tables and wandered down to the first fields to see how things are growing.

Next to the first rows of zucchini plants (now petering out and ready to be supplanted by later plantings), I discovered brand new seedlings for green beans and wax beans settling into the soil. It'll be a few weeks until we see beans off these plants, but I love that the farmers are thinking ahead and planting additional crops to extend the season!

I couldn't resist visiting the high tunnel and the rows and rows of tomato plants. My goodness, how they've grown!

Back in the garage, we had two long tables groaning under the weight of all the produce awaiting us. We had a stunning variety of produce to choose from:

--one Mars Red sweet onion (mine)
--one Walla Walla sweet onion (mine)
--one Lavender Touch eggplant and a pint of Fairy Tale eggplant (split)
--two large green peppers (split)
--three bulbs of garlic (all mine!)
--one Spineless Beauty green zucchini (mine)
--one Golden Dawn yellow zucchini (to my folks)
--four medium summer squash (split)
--one pint okra (for My Dear Papa)
--four poblano peppers (split)
--one quart green beans (split)
--one pint cherry tomatoes (mine; I chose the orange this week)
--one quart Red Pontiac potatoes (mine)
--one small bunch Swiss chard (mostly to my folks, with four stalks for me)
--four Tadorna leeks (split)
--two small cucumbers (mine)

We also had four pounds (about two quarts) of tomatoes coming to us, from about half a dozen different varieties! So My Dear Papa loaded a quart basket with Big Boys while I loaded mine with smaller (but meaty) Early Girls and Goliaths. We could have also chosen Lemon Boy, Hillbilly, Mortgage Lifter, and Better Boy tomatoes -- quite an assortment!

That left us with one very full and gorgeously colored CSA basket for the week! And divided between us, it still made for a very full bag for My Wonderful Parents and overflowing basket for me!

Though early weeks might have seemed a little thin in comparison in terms of quantity and variety, we are definitely getting more than our weekly share's worth right now, with so much good food coming in from the fields. The Lady Bountiful asked if the variety and smaller quantities was okay, or if we preferred larger quantities of fewer items in our CSA baskets each week. I think we (along with other CSA members) wholeheartedly agreed that the variety was preferable, because it saves us buying as many things at the farmers' market, and as long as she has surplus, we're willing to pay extra to get more of certain things.

It's still an amazing deal -- and such a treat!

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