As half share participants in Roots and Shoots Farm’s CSA program, this is our last food basket of the 2011 season. It has been a wonderful summer of produce for us and we have been very pleased to be associated with a certified organic farm. Particularly this farm. Their constant care and attention over ‘my food’ in the fields amplifies why I am feeling melancholy about this milestone of lasts.
What has resonated loudly with me is the strength of the farm team. Steely determination and unwavering resolve appears to be the motto at Roots and Shoots Farm. I lived in a rural farm setting for 15 years. I get how much work it can be and how sometimes Mother Nature will hijack your agenda, despite your best efforts.
Thankfully, Roots and Shoots Farm will be participating in the indoor market at Lansdowne on Nov 20, 27 and Dec 4, 18.
We have been CSA members with them for the two seasons they have been in business and we plan to continue with them again next summer.
OBSERVATIONS FROM THIS SEASON:
- I love kale. Last year I didn’t know much about kale. Kale intimidated me. I now pine for kale. And when I get it, whether it is Russian Red or Tuscan or some other variety, I have lots of ideas for my kale.
- The farm made improvements in the weekly communication. It was great to hear what had happened over the week. Their challenges, their strategies, their future plans. It helps to get the list of basket contents ahead of time. That extra day allows for planning and complementary shopping to round out the food supply.
- There were many wonderful recipes shared with the weekly newsletter. Some we tried and some we used as inspiration. Even though I am a happy kitchen person and now a CSA sophomore, I still appreciated this direction. Freshmen would have been even more delighted, I am sure.
- I would love to get more specific information about the varieties for plants and produce. As an easy example, all potatoes aren’t equal. Some are better for baking. Some better for boiling. Etc. The same can be said about radishes and beets and lettuces, etc. Even garlic. Some garlics are stronger than others. Knowing the varieties allows me to use the produce to best show off its great taste. I hesitate to suggest things that involve extra work by the farm team since I prefer them in the field vs. on the computer, but maybe there could be a static page on the website that shows a picture of the plant and its name. I am happy to help with that too.
- This year I am more relaxed about not knowing what was coming in my food basket until the day is almost upon us. I have become a better planner around this ‘black box competition’ challenge. I have learned to embrace the uncertainty. No one is more surprised by that breakthrough than me. We Type A people do have our issues.
- I felt that the produce was consistently better this year.
- I found the size of the basket suited me and our family well.
- I did a better job of prepping the food once I picked it up. Cleaning produce well before putting it away and wrapping well what needed to have its moisture preserved. I was surprised at how long some things lasted. But who knows how old things are already when you buy them in the grocery store. My CSA food is picked same day or sometimes the day before.
- I liked that the farm had a stand at my drop-off to allow me to make extra purchases or to go there on my off week to shop for their produce.
- I liked getting extra news and pictures on the Roots and Shoots Farm Facebook page.
- I liked the Swap Box. I only used it once. I traded bok choy for a red cabbage. I am greedy about red cabbage. I did try to stick with my basket and not do trades. I accepted that this was likely the best way I would learn about something I had not tried before.
- I wished I had done more freezing. I did not really get much further than my usual of freezing soups. This is my challenge for next year. Unrelated to this farm’s produce, I did freeze big batches of pesto in tiny jars and also many tiny jars of minced garlic in olive oil.
- I wished I had done more preserves this year. Unrelated to this farm’s produce, I did peach and red pepper relish and also tomato sauce and tomato juice.
- I was most successful with using my produce when I figured out its destination dish as soon as the basket came home. “Hey Mr. Napa Cabbage! You are going to become coleslaw with Bobby Flay’s famous dressing.” Done.
- I have found a few CSA members that are blogging a bit about their food and I also have a few friends that have joined Roots and Shoots Farm this season. I would love to be a part of a more active network of those using the same CSA basket. There were times when I wanted to shout out to someone, “What are you planning to do with those Hakurei Turnips this week?”
Did you participate in a CSA program this summer? How did you enjoy it? What did you learn? About the produce? About yourself and how you engage with food?
What a beautiful Thanksgiving CSA basket to close out my season. Enjoy the pictures.