How many of you have a farm share, or have the opportunity to buy one if you wanted?
This is the first year that I’m picking which farm in my area that I’d like to have a share of, and the thought of fresh vegetables on a weekly basis is giving me spring fever! My favorite part of the whole experience (because yes, getting a farm share is an experience in itself) is getting at least one unknown thing every week that I need to find a new recipe for. Sometimes it’s not even that I don’t know how to prepare the unknown, it’s that I’m not even sure what the vegetable is called! By the end of October last year when my share was complete, I had learned more about the different varieties of vegetables that grow locally than I had ever imagined possible.
I always love a new recipe that uses a unique item that I have to go searching for at the market, but when the roles are reversed and I find myself armed with the unknown before the recipe, dinner gets that much more exciting. :-)
Let me back up a little bit though- before I moved to the rural area I live in now, I had never even heard of a farm share, so perhaps I should fill everyone in on the basics first. A farm share is essentially exactly what it sounds like – you pay a certain dollar amount in the beginning of a farm’s growing season, and you then are allotted a certain amount of their crops weekly for the remainder of the season. Different farms do certain things differently, but I’ll take you through a few variations in a second. Last year I split a share with a few friends of mine, so I didn’t do any research on the farms, I sort of just jumped on board. Of course I was thrilled that I did; I honestly can’t find a single down side to getting one, but what I didn’t realize (until I started to do a little research this year) is that there are tons of variations between the farms, which makes my selection one that will have to be made with careful consideration!
CISA is an amazing organization in Massachusetts that connects farmers in the Connecticut River Valley, which according to them holds some of the finest agricultural soils in the world, and their surrounding communities. I personally take for granted how easily accessible local products are in my community, and it is CISA that allows me to not even have to think twice about where I can find them. Among many other things, their website provides a list of farms all over the state from which you can purchase a share. From there you can see what the farm grows, if it’s an organic farm, and the farm’s website for more specific information. As it turns out, there are quite a few farms for me to choose from!
Here are a few variations between farms that I’m considering:
- Organic vs. chemical free: In my eyes, either way it’s local!
- Cost: Ranging from $350- $720 for 20-24 weeks
- Delivered vs. Pick up: The Pedal People deliver shares from certain farms by bicycle, talk about going green!
- What’s included in the share: Just veggies? Some include fruit, herbs, flowers, eggs, dairy, and pick your own options too.
- Pick up time: If I decide I want to go to the farm myself to take advantage of the pick your own options, I need to choose one that has hours that work with my schedule.
After hours of getting lost reading about various crops & what each farm is growing this year, I decided that I’m going to go with a farm where I can go and pick up my share. Seeing all of the gorgeous pictures of vegetables has me convinced that there is no way that I can pass up the opportunity to get out to the farm myself every week, even if The Pedal People would save me some gas. Typically a farm has barrels of veggies set up for each shareholder to pick from so I won’t really be picking my entire share. It’s the getting out in some fresh air to pick my own flowers, herbs, and smaller veggies that I can’t wait for. Like I said earlier, this is going to be an experience in itself, so stay tuned as I continue to share my stories at the farm and in my kitchen!
Lightlife Team Member