We’ve been meditating on the health of our planet all month long with #FPEarthMonth, and the theme has really made me think about how I personally look after Mother Earth and where I find meaning in doing so. Over and over, my mind goes back to my weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s been such a meaningful way for me to connect, not only because it supports Earth-friendly farming practices, but also because it’s given me a tie to the planet’s rhythms. I’ve become accustomed to eating fresh herbs in high summer, and noshing on hearty greens and root vegetables all winter long. The wait for those sweet strawberries makes them an enormous delight; and man, you’ve never tasted a tomato until you’ve had a fresh one in-season. It gives me an awareness to the change and real, vibrant flavors of nature. I feel connected, in tune, and in sync with the natural flow of time.
So today, I thought I’d introduce you to Jimmy, the Fresh Food Manager at Greensgrow Farms where I personally pickup my CSA. I wanted to hear straight from the expert why everyone should sign up for a share and why he himself is passionate about the model. Read on for an interview with Jimmy — but first — if you’re in the Philadelphia area, be sure to enjoy the discount to sign up for your share today!
$15.00 Off a Summer CSA Membership through May 10th
Use coupon code FPCSA15 at online checkout
Pick up locations in Kensington • West Philly • Navy Yard • Fireside Camp Supply • Williams Sonoma • PA Hospital • Camden
What are three reasons why everyone should join a CSA?
It’s fun! Joining a CSA is great for someone who loves to cook and is open to an adventure in the kitchen. Throughout the season you get an opportunity to experience items that you may not seek out independently. I personally have a lot of fun experimenting with new varieties of produce.
It feels good. Eating fresh & local through a CSA helps to build a relationship with the area you live in. We source all of our food from a 100 mile radius of Philadelphia. It’s some of the best farmland in the country, and here at Greensgrow, we get to celebrate that fact weekly.
It does good. CSA’s pay farmers and workers a living wage by buying product at competitive rates. Growing food can be unpredictable based on the weather and the markets, and buying a CSA share can give some stability during the growing season. It also creates jobs in our region and allows the small family farm to thrive.
Which fruits & vegetables do you personally get excited to see each season?
It’s hard to pick, because each week brings something new. In particular, I look forward to the first strawberries and asparagus of the season because it’s a sure sign that summer is right around the corner. Rich Jr. from Marolda Farms in NJ grows Shishito peppers, which are incredible when blistered on the grill. Every 1 out of 5 is hot, so my staff and I have been known to play a game of roulette during CSA pick ups. John Glick in Lancaster produces the best raspberries I’ve ever had – truly outstanding. They’re often gone before I manage to get them home. I also love the bounty of fall because it brings so many fresh greens, acorn squash, and my favorite brassica, Romanesco.
What is one thing coming up in the CSA this summer that you can bet most members have never tried?
Bitter melon and sunflower shoots will probably come as a surprise to our new members. One of our farmers in Chester County is originally from Beijing and has introduced some really neat varieties, including bitter melon, which is incredible in savory and spicy dishes. I try to mix things up through the season so our CSA members stay engaged and keep getting the best, freshest product.
Do you have any recommendations for someone who is signing up for a CSA for the very first time?
Ask the right questions before signing up for a CSA. There are many different types & models of CSAs, so it’s essential to make sure the one you pick is right for you. Some shares include fruit and cheese, others may just be all veggies. Think about things like your diet, source preference (organic v. chem free v. conventional), and household size. Knowing these things will allow you to maximize use of your share.
Lastly, what does it mean to be free?
To be free is to be able to trust your food supply and eat deliberately. It’s making a decision to buy the arugula grown 30 miles away rather arugula from another hemisphere. It’s empowering to know where your food comes from and how it was grown. Food isn’t something that just happens to you three times a day during meals – it’s fuel for your life and a way to relate to your community.
+ Will you be joining a CSA this summer? Have tips for making the most of your share? Sound off in the comments!
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