Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our Summer CSA Experience - First Mini Share of 2014 (April 24)

I wanted to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to buy fresh local produce ever since I first learned about them a couple years ago. For so many reasons, mainly travel and busy summer schedules, we never signed up because many weeks we wouldn't be able to pick up or use a produce box. When I found a local certified organic farm offering pay-as-you-go CSA shares, we signed up for their email list.

I love that their produce is all non GMO and certified organic!

What's in the box this week?  April 24, 2014
A Mini Share that includes:
  - Bag of Spinach
  - Bag of Baby Bok Coy
  - 2 Potted Herbs of your Choice
Potted herb selection includes over 15 varieties:  parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, lavender, cilantro, dill, catnip, fennel, spearmint, peppermint, tarragon, oregano, chives and more.  Choose any 2.

Price: $15

Additional potted herbs are available for $3 each. We bought 3 additional potted herbs.

To Buy or Not To Buy
Sure you can probably get a big box of organic spinach for less at Costco or Sam's Club, but it isn't grown locally or picked fresh the morning it's purchased. I enjoy gardening, but with two young kids I do what I can and don't have the variety of produce that is available from our local CSA. For example, I've never grown baby bok choy and it is not a veggie available at our grocery stores.

First Impressions
I knew we could buy the organic veggies available in this mini share (other than the baby Bok Choy) at a reasonable price elsewhere, so I decided to buy this mini share primarily to learn the process of picking up a CSA share and to see if our family liked it at a small cost (this mini share was less expensive than a regular full share that will be available as more produce is in season). I also was excited to try fresh organic baby bok choy as it's super healthy and I'm always up for a new food adventure.

The pick up process was super simple. The produce was beautiful, fresh, and delicious.
First Mini Share of the Season!  Spinach, Baby Bok Choy, Potted Herbs - Dill, Parsley, Cilantro, Rosemary, Lavender

What to do with all the fresh produce?
The spinach was used in several green smoothies, so tasty the whole family loves them. Our 1 year old especially enjoys these, in fact it's one food she doesn't want to share! Love watching kids enjoy eating their greens!

I had never made baby bok choy before, so I found a new recipe to try Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy with Garlic. It was so good, everyone in the family enjoyed it. I cut it into small pieces for my five year old and told him there were soft bites and crunchy bites. He decided to eat it in a pattern of soft, crunchy, soft, crunchy, and declared he liked both. Next time I would sauté up some additional veggies for this side dish, but I was happy everyone liked a new veggie!

The organic potted herbs will be used whenever I can throw in some extra color and flavor. We already added fresh parsley to salmon cakes and I would like to use some to top a frittata. I would like to try to make some homemade pickles with the dill or maybe a few Greek dishes. The cilantro I gave to my mom for helping watch the kids while my husband was on business travel. I like to grow my own cilantro from seed. I love to toss a sprig of rosemary into a pot of beans for added flavor and would love to try making homemade focaccia bread one day with rosemary and sea salt. The lavender description said you could actually strip the leaves and skewer meat or veggies onto the stalk for grilling. I've never grown lavender before, so that one will be new for me. The basil was beautiful and fragrant, but it's super easy to start by seed. I just sprinkle seeds in a container filled with potting soil.

Would we buy another CSA share?
Absolutely! We used our fresh produce from our mini share so quickly, we can't wait for the larger full shares and more healthy food adventures.

We found our local CSA using the Local Harvest website,

I'll post the rest of the CSA shares we purchase and how our family of four plans to use all the fresh organic produce.

This article is getting posted late, but I still plan to post photos of our summer CSA experience. Our CSA veggies have been a highlight of our summer. The kids love picking up and trying new veggies from the farm each week. Have you tried a CSA? Do you plant a garden or edible landscaping?

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