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Saturday, February 22, 2014

CSA: Farm to Table at Home




        The first time I heard the term "CSA" was from my friend Dan Meiser, owner of Mystic's Oyster Club and Engine Room. Dan has been a major voice in the Farm to Table movement in Connecticut. At the Oyster Club, the menu changes every day depending upon what Chef James Weyman can source fresh from his local farmers. It must be stressful to plan a menu every day based on what your farmers and fishermen can supply fresh, but on the other hand, imagine a restaurant where the food is always unique and inspired based on the freshest ingredients. This is the model I wanted to emulate at our home.
        Jeanine is a very skilled home chef and I enjoy cooking as well, so why shouldn't we have access to the same food sources that Dan and Chef James have? So I asked Dan where we can source our food and he directed me to the CT NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) website and also to the Local Harvest website. He told me that I should join a CSA. I had never heard that term before, but the Internet is my friend so I checked out the websites and googled "CSA". CSA stands for "community supported agriculture". Basically, you pay money to a farmer at the beginning of the season to purchase your "share". In return you get a box full of stuff every week for the duration of the season. You don't know what you will be getting or even how much, but in general you get enough vegetables for the week. And just like at the Oyster Club, you can decide what you're cooking based on what you get.
       A typical cost for a share would be around $800 for the season. The season runs 16-20 weeks which is $40-$50 per week. Most CSAs offer a half share as well designed to feed 2 people. You don't only have vegetables. There are CSAs for raw milk, organic chickens, beef, eggs and other farm fresh foods. Last year we joined our first CSA by purchasing a half share at a local farm. We were so pleased with it that this year we bought a full share for organic vegetables, and we joined a chicken CSA and a raw milk CSA! We had to act quickly because many of our local CSAs fill up quickly, especially the dairy CSA.
       We are looking forward to a year of locally sourced foods from our local farmers. We get our vegetables from New Mercies Farm, raw milk and yogurt from Deerfield Farms and pasture raised chickens from the Wooly Pig . You don't have to purchase a CSA share to enjoy these fresh ingredients.
        There are over 100 farmers markets in CT where you can purchase fresh, locally produced food. This year, support your local farmer and make your kitchen farm to table.



Some memorable moments for our family from last summer's Farmer's Markets.



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