Gardens, CSA’s, & Farmer’s Markets…Do You Use Them?

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Some of you might remember last May when we bought a CSA share from Plan B organic farms. It was our first time ever buying a CSA share and we were excited for local and organic food each week.

Well to clarify, it was mostly ME who was excited…but excitement is contagious and I think Eric secretly enjoyed it too.

…I think it was all the cooking I did!

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We quickly learned that there were things we loved about the CSA share and things that we didn’t love.

CSA PROS:

1) Value for dollar

At just $20 something dollars a week, we were given a huge box of organic produce. It would have cost much more had we purchased this at the grocery store. Even so, we wouldn’t have been able to find everything organic at the grocery store and I can bet it wouldn’t have been local either.

2) Support local organic farmers

3) Fresh & Crisp produce, better quality than what we find at grocery store

4) Our veggie consumption went way up and we felt amazing.

5) We tried so many new vegetables. Even scary ones!

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CSA CONS:

1) Lots of Repetition

By August/September we were getting tons and tons of potatoes and squash (among other things) and we got so sick of the repetition. I’m sure if we lived in a tropical climate, there would be a better selection of produce each week, but around here I think we are more limited.

2) No choice in what produce you get

We often found ourselves longing for some items that were in season and they never came                 (e.g., tomatoes).

3) Picking up the box each week

We opted not to get a delivery to save money. We found out only after we purchased the share that the pick-up location was a 25 minute drive from our house and it wasn’t overly convenient for us. Plan B does not disclose the pick-up location until your make the purchase. Obviously, this was a con for our particular circumstance, but pick-up location is still something to consider before buying.

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Our 2011 Produce Plan

This year, we decided that we are going to change things up and do things a bit differently!

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Our plan for the 2011 season is to:

1) Possibly plant a garden this Spring, time willing! 

2) Buy produce from the Milton Farmer’s Market. We aren’t working at the Oakville market this summer so we hope to attend the Milton Market (as customers!) as much as possible this year. It opens May 14th.

3) Buy produce from local organic farm. I recently discovered that there is an organic farm not too far from us. This organic farm lets you buy produce on Wednesday evenings and they will also be selling at the Milton Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

(If we plant a garden, we won’t need to rely on the farm/market as much…but we’ll have to see!)

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If we manage to build a garden, I plan on showing the process on the blog. I really have NO CLUE how to build a veggie garden (and I don’t know a thing about vegetable gardening!), but my RMT has been teaching me a lot about it because she is a pro. :) I’m sure I can find some tutorials online too.

I hope our new plan will work out well this season. I will keep you updated on our progress!

Do you have a plan of how you will be buying your produce this Spring and Summer? Do you ever use a CSA, Farmer’s Market, local farm, or plant your own veggies? If you plant your own garden, how did you start it up?

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Vegan Radhika Sarohia February 14, 2013

Came upon this blog entry while searching for pasilla peppers on here because I’m obsessed with vegan stuffed pasilla peppers right now haha…anyway, interesting post and it reminds me that I totally have to check out Farmer Markets in Los Angeles. I’ve lived here almost my entire life (except college up at Berkeley) and I’ve never been to one, mostly cause I’m very lazy and always sleep in and they seem to go on during the morning, by and large. Gonna try and go to one, eventually, if can wake up in time and all

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Emily April 20, 2011

I wanted to add an additional pro-CSA voice! Last year was our first year, and we LOVED it. The biggest thing for me is that a traditional CSA truly supports the farmer. You are paying them ahead of time, in full, because you want to vote with your dollars and support a local farm. Our farm last year was quite small and had a hailstorm wipe out their crops early in the season. Luckily it was early in the season and they could replant. We didn’t get any vegetables one week, which was inconvenient, but all I could think was how much more that setback would have impacted them without the CSA holders having provided money up front.

Unfortunately, our farm from last year isn’t doing a CSA this year. We went with a larger farm that gets good reviews from some friends I know. We chose a single share this year, and I’m a little nervous it won’t seem like enough food, but time will tell!

I agree the repetition can be intense, but I love eating what’s in season, and that means a little repetition. We supplement our CSA share with fruit from the farmer’s market (and tomatoes as necessary). I prefer a CSA over buying all our produce at a farmer’s market b/c the markets here are quite large and busy, and it’s challenging to talk to each farmer to learn about their farming methods. I can do adequate research on one farm and it’s much less overwhelming to pick up one box of veggies than to survey all the options at the farmer’s market. Now i can enjoy wandering the market, looking only for fruit, without the stress of making lots of decisions. (Am I the only one who gets overwhelmed by the options at farmer’s markets?)

All this to say—yay for CSAs!!!!

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Amiee April 16, 2011

As an american who lives in the UK, I have always been impressed with the way the government here subsidizes vegetables over meat. It means our vegetables are a lot cheaper. I have a fantastic local farmer’s market that shows up on the main street twice a week, year round, and from there I can buy a shoulder-bruising bag of organic veg for about $5USD. Because this is so reasonable, I’ve never looked further into buying crated deliveries, although they do exist here. I know my milkman (yes, I have a real milk man, who leaves a pint every morning for us) does vegetable delivery, but his prices are higher than the market.

Anyway, what I really meant to say was that vegetable gardening is a lot easier than you think! I have a plot in our community gardens here and grew quite a bit of food last year, and I’m a novice! There are tons of books and websites to help you. Try growing potatoes – they’re pretty easy and they were SO MUCH FUN to harvest. They were probably the most rewarding crop I had.

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Amy @ A Little Nosh April 15, 2011

Our plan is to plant a garden, and supplement with the farmer’s market every Saturday.

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saravixen April 15, 2011

My boyfriend and I are going to live together in three months, so we were looking for some CSA’s too… I was already wondering if there wouldn’t be too much of the same vegetables in it. So we’re going to grow our own veggies. I read some things about it on the internet and stumbled upon some good books (I would give you the titles, but they’re all in Dutch). But the internet is such a great resource, there are some ‘calenders’ where you can find what you have to plant when. My mom has a little veggiegarden and it’s just lovely to go out, look around, think ‘hmm, I feel like eating zucchini’ and just take a zucchini. Have fun with it!

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shannon April 14, 2011

Gardening advice from a gardener who learned from her grandparents (aka the best gardeners ever)-

Gardening is a learning experience. Trial and error. Even the most experiences gardeners have failures and successes.

#1 and most important= don’t start too big! If you go crazy and plant too much you will not be able to take care for it all and then most of it will not do well. It is hard not to get carried away and buy all kinds of veggies because it all looks good and youlove to eat it all! Pick the basics that are your favs to eat to get started and then you can add more favs later- even as soon as the fall season for greens and other fall veggies. Start smaller and add every year. I try to grow something new every year that I have not grown before. This year I have added fennel, Bak Choy and Napa cabbage to my list. I laughed when I saw your fennel pic. :) As your expierence grows- so will your garden. Gardeners are notorious for expanding every year until they eventually use up every last bit of space available to them.

As your garden is established, it is easier to care for every year. The first couple of years it is more work to keep up (weeded etc) especially if you are planting in a location that previously grew grass. Grass never grows until you don’t want it to.

I ordered all my seed from Territorial Seed this year. I just like the company and they have a good selection of organic and heirloom seeds.

Also I am addicted to my subscriptions to Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening (I started reading OG in the 90’s). They are packed with helpful tips, info and advice. I can’t live without them!!

I just decided this year to add my garden adventure to my blog simply because it motivates me to get out in it more and take care of business if I know that people are watching me. (or something like that).

good luck. feel free to email me ?’s if I can help in any way. I may not know the answer but My Granny will….. I email her all the time. today was asking about my cabbage that bolted before it did anything productive. see failure. lol.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 15, 2011

thank you SO MUCH!!!

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Becki Kerr April 14, 2011

Plant a garden! You will never regret it!! Start out small cause you can’t imagine how much work it is to weed, etc. but you’ll never regret being outside that much more! Tomatoes are the easiest thing to grow!! Really can’t mess them up unless bugs get a hold of them. Try different varieties too. Cherry tomatoes are the best! Nothing like eating a sun-ripened tomato out of the garden. :)

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Tanya April 14, 2011

We have a CSA that runs throughout the year. But you’re not required to purchase. You just show up when you want (they’re open 2 days a week) and you can buy the box for $25 or just buy some individual items, or both. I live in an apartment with a tiny patio, so I can only grow stuff in pots, if I want. But I’m always gone for one month in the middle of summer, so I can’t really grow anything at all! I used to grow tomatoes, which I love. Inside, I grow some lettuce and started growing kale. I’ve got a small pepper plant inside too (these are all in my Aerogardens). I’d love to go back to growing stuff in pots outside again, but I’m always gone at the wrong time. I’ll try when I get back, in the middle of summer. There are a few other farmer’s markets around too…..

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Liz April 14, 2011

You should check out Whole Circle Farms just north of Acton. They have a farm store that sells produce year round. We also did a CSA two years in a row and are moving to a plan like yours this year. Have fun with the garden! And the Georgetown market is great as well (and we have a Wed. night market too!).

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Susie April 13, 2011

We actually run a CSA in Pennsylvania, be glad to offer any gardening advice needed!!

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Cassy April 13, 2011

http://www.active.com/nutrition/Articles/The-Diet-Detective-7-Healthy-Spring-Tips.htm

Just saw this article today…seems like it would be super helpful for starting your garden!

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Lina April 13, 2011

We’re planning to go to one of our local farmer’s markets, there are many in our area, tons of orchards, it’s great.
I have a question for any one out there, I was rushing thru the grocery store a few days ago and instead of picking up kale for my Green monsters, i got two huge bags of mustard greens,!!! Does any body have any suggestions on how i can incorporate these to my green monsters? I made one today and it was SPICY!!! Very weird, but i drank it…I’m sure it’s still very healthy and nutritious, but the i can do without the spice, Help!!

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Kristan April 13, 2011

My husband and I plant a small garden at our local Community Garden. One of the best things to learn is canning and food saver machines. We still have food that we grew last summer in the freezer and can shelf. Be mindful of planting to many plants, because you could have way to much produce. Different plants should be planted at different times and harvested at different times.

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Amber K April 13, 2011

My husband and I have thought about doing it repeatedly, but my lack of control over what I’d get is mostly what turns me off. I wouldn’t want to spend a bunch of money and then get things I can’t eat due to food intolerances or that I truly dislike. I think I’m just too picky!

Although I can’t wait until the farmer’s market opens! I have been waiting for weeks and it’s almost time!

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Aundra April 13, 2011

Yay for local produce! We started a garden for the first time last year, buying seedlings from the farmer’s market and also from the local home and garden shop. This year, we’re trying to start the garden from seed. It’s quite the adventure, never having grown anything from seeds before!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far: it’s about a balance of heat, light and water. We purchased heat mats to place under the seeds, and that seems to help, especially since it’s still cold here (Maryland). Also, start small — you can continue to increase the size each year.

Best of luck! I think there’s nothing more rewarding than growing your own food!

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Amy April 13, 2011

Definitely try gardening! This year is my fourth year of gardening and I love it. Great food and great exercise. Win – win! My best tip is to start small. It’s very tempting to try to grow a bunch of different veggies, but large gardens require a lot of time to maintain. I tried to grow a monster garden last year and it made me really unhappy because I couldn’t keep up with the weeds and ended up losing a lot of my produce. So I’m back to basics this year. I have really good luck with lettuce and kale, radishes, tomatoes, zucchini, bush beans, and basil. The lettuce and kale alone are totally worth it. My kale actually survived the winter so I’m already enjoying kale right now!

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Ilana April 13, 2011

I live in New York City and don’t drive, so getting to local farms is unfortunately a difficulty for me. However, I try my hardest to get to the farmer’s market at least one a week to get local produce and support other local food businesses – there’s this incredible vegan bakery that ONLY sells their products at this market, so frequently I go and stock up on goodies. I’ve been looking into CSA membership, but right now the only ones local don’t deliver…but there are several new CSAs and co-ops being developed across the city right now, which I think is fantastic.

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Sabrina @ Radioactive Runner April 13, 2011

I love going to our local market and buying local.. thats one of my favorite things about summer.. fresh produce and markets!

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Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner April 13, 2011

We’ve planted a garden! We get a lot of ORGANIC Bell Peppers and Totamotes that way! It saves us a TON! :)

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Trish April 13, 2011

We opted for a ‘cash crop’ instead of the CSA this year, for the reasons you stated above. This way we can just go and pick up whatever fruits and veggies we want, and not have to worry about money since we paid for it upfront. We’re also going to do a container garden (put the plants in containers/pots instead of the ground to avoid having to weed a garden!). I bought a starter pack at Home Depot that I’ll start inside and once it’s ok to transfer outside, they’ll go in pots. This is our first time, so who knows how it’ll go! Good luck!

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Amy April 13, 2011

I belong to the world’s most awesome full-diet, year-round CSA– Essex Farm. For a great read on farming, love, and relationships with others and the world around us, read the book that describes in all– “The Dirty Life”– by Kristin Kimball. I love eating seasonally and can’t imagine ever going back to my “old” ways!

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Corinne April 13, 2011

I use Mama Earth Organics! They are wonderful and while I know what you mean about repetition some weeks, unfortunately that’s more to do with our climate than their service. I get what you mean about living in the tropics though!
I also plant a garden which I am expanding this year!! SO excited. There are some great books you can pick up to help you with your planning, and I just picked one up which happened to be a Reader’s Digest ‘encyclopedia’-like folder of all plants, how to grow them, how to prune, etc. There are also a lot of really great resources online on how to start the garden, how to dig it up properly,to rotate the soil, and which plants to select for each environment…so much to learn about gardening. BUT, once you start you will LOVE the tranquility, peace, and pride of growing your own veggies and fruits.

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Molly April 13, 2011

These vegetable pictures are so beautiful!

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Jennifer Drummond April 13, 2011

Hi,

I don’t have a farmers market near me, which is strange since I live near a bunch of farms, so it isn’t convenient for me to get my produce from the Farmers market, (25 miles from my home). This year, actually this weekend, I am going to be planting my first vegetable garden. I have a 7 x 12 area that I cleared away last weekend and I am looking so forward to having a fresh, organic veggie garden. last year I planted tomatoes and yellow beans, and I was so proud of myself. Two tomato plants was sufficient as I was making a ton of tomato dishes. So this year I have taken the deck down, cleared a spot and now I am going to plant corn, asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, lots of peppers and squash, amongst other sweet little surprises.

If you have time this year I recommend planting a veggie garden. It will make you feel great, plus it will save you money and trips to the store. Not to mention we will be able to read about it and see your progress on your blogs! Have a great day!!

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Christine @ Burning It Off April 13, 2011

I get most of my produce from the grocery store but my grandpa has his own garden where he grows the best tomatoes, onions, zucchini and cucumbers. He’s 85 years old and still gets out there and works on his garden every spring… :D

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Laura @ Starloz April 13, 2011

for me, the cons outweigh the pros. i thought about it but i’d rather buy what i want & need.

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Angela W April 13, 2011

Hahaha, I love the picture of you with the scary vegetable!! You’re cute, thanks for the laugh!! I think my local farmers’ market just started last week and I plan to check it out tomorrow! My apartment window also happens to overlook the farmer’s field next door… we just moved in a few months ago so I’m not sure what he grows, but I’m very excited to see what he’s going to put on his sale board in the next few months! Can’t get more local than that :)

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Kim April 13, 2011

We live in Alaska and some of the same geographical issues you do when it comes to fresh produce. After reading about your CSA purchases and looking at the pictures I found one out of Washington that delivers to Anchorage. I enjoy it because I can either get weekly or bi-weekly deliveries, they have about a dozen pick up locations in town and the one nearest to me is on my way home from work. I can also go in to my account the week before delivery and change items I do not wish to receive. This past week for example I replaced carrots with radishes because I fear I am turning orange from my recent carrot intake. Being able to change the contents of the box was a HUGE selling point for me.

I do plant some vegetables in containers on our deck. We have a postage stamp size yard so I am very limited. I discovered last year that my German Shepard likes broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and peas. He didn’t eat the bok choy! I also shop at our local farmers market during the late spring, summer and early fall.

You have been my inspiration to eat more veggies and as many organic as possible. Thank you for your inspirational words and pictures. You and Eric are such a lovely couple!

Kim

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