I first became aware of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) while we lived in Boston. My friend Anna and I joined a CSA. We were lucky to have a neighborhood group so we could take turns driving out to the farm, about a 45 minute drive, to pick up the food.
The farm was a 3 acre clearing in the forest directly east of Walden Pond (yes Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond). We would first head to the storehouse to collect whatever the farmers had harvested that morning. Everything was displayed in baskets and on tables in this cool shed dug into the side of a small rise. It had three walls in the soil and was always at least 10 degrees cooler than the forest surrounding it.
Next we would harvest the rest of the share. Mind you, we would harvest 8 shares. We would pick raspberries, beans, tomatoes, flowers and bunches of herbs. It all depended on when things were ready. It took about 2-3 hours to pick all 8 shares.
Our girls would help a bit, then run off and play among the herbs and munch on peas or carrots. This is where India learned to eat snap peas. I was amazed! She loved them (why wouldn’t she?) and I soon became a huge fan of working the farm.
One of my favorite memories was picking up our shares on a rainy day in August or September. Zach came to help, since Anna had already moved to NC and I was about 5 months pregnant with Ezra. We had to pick tomatoes, and raspberries. The rain came down in torrents as Zach filled a bag with golden cherry tomatoes. He probably had to pick 8 pounds.
India and I stayed in the car and when the rain began to ease, we jumped out to harvest some raspberries. The sun began to shine from behind the clouds. We were just commenting on our luck when we arrived to the huge raspberry patch. The bushes were well over my head on either side and a loud humming could be heard. The bees had come out to pollinate while the sun shone. India was a bit frightened but I tried to play up the fact that the bees were busy with their thing and wouldn’t be bothering us. She was a brave 3 year old and decided picking (and eating) a few raspberries was worth the risk. It was an ideal setting. The damp air, the warm sun, the humming bees, and the tasty raspberries. I haven’t seen a raspberry patch its equal since.
While in Baltimore, our good friends the Reads worked the CSA. They just happened to move into our ward about 8 months after we did. They actually lived on the farm in a little rundown cottage that would often be plagued with ladybugs. I remember keeping India home from preschool so we could spend a nice day at the farm. On the porch helping Nick split the garlic, getting it ready to plant. We would often compare notes about different CSA’s. My one experience lending a bit to the conversation.
Now here in Denver we have finally joined a CSA. Apparently purchasing a share it is akin to getting your first born into a good Boston school… or camping out to buy concert tickets. Thankfully I remembered to get on the waiting list sometime in February and we actually got in!
It has been nearly impossible to work the 3 hours required for our share each month. India has been really helpful, but the rain, the baby and a groggy preschooler has made us seriously behind. Thursday at I finally remembered to ask how I could fulfill my hours without working the field. I am now making a photographic record of each item of produce for the farm. This is some of what we picked up this week: