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FLS reporter Katie Thisdell serves up news on local food finds, tales from home cooks and inspiration to help you have fun in your own kitchen.

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Looking for a CSA to join? It’s not too late.

Community supported agriculture, or CSA programs, are a growing trend in local produce sales. In a CSA, you pay up-front for a “share” of the produce from a single farm or group of farms, then you receive or pick up boxes of produce throughout the growing season, with the contents changing based on what is in-season and fresh at the time.

For a list of CSA programs in our area, click here.

While some CSAs have already filled up or have closed to new entries for the year, one local group that doesn’t often have openings reports that it is seeking new members.

The Fredericksburg Area CSA Project, which has been around for 16 years, includes produce from a collection of area farms that all meet or exceed the national organic standard. You can read a full prospectus here. This CSA is often full, but currently has 12 shares available.

Another CSA that is still taking members is C&T Produce. You can find C&T’s vegetables at most area farmers markets, but the grower began offering a CSA in recent years. Find more information here.

If you’re still considering a CSA this year, here are a few guidelines to help you make the right choice for your household:

  • How much comes in each box? Some area CSA deliveries are big enough to split between two families. Talk to the farmer or manager about how much you can expect in each box, and if needed, find another family to partner with.
  • What are your priorities when choosing produce? Organic growing methods? Price? Add-ons like farm eggs or meats? Ask questions about growing methods at the farms you are considering and explore several CSAs to find the product mix that’s right for you.
  • Price. At several hundred dollars per membership, there can be initial sticker shock when joining a CSA. It’s important to keep in mind that this is a long-term purchase, and that the money you spend on your up-front share is money you won’t be spending in the supermarket produce section throughout the summer.
  • Logistics. Where does the CSA drop off its boxes? Can you get to the pickup location each week at the appointed time? Alternatively, a new service called Dominion Harvest, which offers CSA-like boxes delivered to your door, has begun serving the Fredericksburg area. Find out more here.
  • Kitchen management. Before you join, educate yourself on what you can expect as the seasons change. You will not get tomatoes in April and May, and you won’t get asparagus in August. Pick out a few recipes you know you can use at various times of the year to make the most of your share. Bone up on freezing and preserving vegetables if you expect to have extra veggies.

Have you subscribed to a local CSA program? What tips would you offer for making the most of the experience?

 

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