Kohlrabi (seen above) is my favorite vegetable. Kohlrabi roughly translates to “German turnip” and is in the same family as broccoli and cabbage. It can be green or purple and looks kind of like how I would imagine a space alien. In the past two weeks, I have enjoyed kohlrabi twice thanks to my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share. My favorite way to prepare kohlrabi is to cube it and bake it with a little bit of olive oil and dill and a dash of salt and pepper. It’s a delicious snack that is typically gone within an hour of arriving home.
Having a farm share supports the local economy. Community Supported Agriculture is a program where you pay a local farmer to partake in a share of the crop. That means you get a share of the bounty and also the challenges that may come in a given season. When I pick up my vegetables every week, I am supporting a local farmer and his family while receiving sustainably grown local produce. Life does not get any better than this.
My specific farm share lasts for 22 weeks, which is almost half the year. The amount of money paid to purchase the farm share was definitely worth it given the money I am saving on weekly groceries this summer coupled with the fresh food I am receiving weekly. I am eating healthier, more nutritious food.
Cooking the vegetables in my weekly farm share is also forcing me to evaluate what is in my kitchen cupboards to try to use what I already have. For example, I had swiss chard in my farm share last week. I cooked up some onions and garlic in a little bit of olive oil, added a can of diced tomatoes and white beans I had in the pantry and added the chard. This created a tasty side dish of beans and greens that was a great alternative to boring salad. This is also an opportunity to use up or rotate pantry stock kept in kitchen cupboards.
Eating a variety of in-season vegetable is helping fuel my running to ensure that I am taking in a balance of nutrients. It’s also refreshing to pick up my vegetables each week because it is the only time I get to go grocery shopping and not have to worry about reading labels or food allergies. I know I can eat what I am getting and not have a reaction. Having a farm share is the most freeing time of year as a person with multiple food allergies.
The biggest challenge with a farm share is the creativity involved. You definitely need to have the time to plan what you are going to do with the vegetables and to actually prepare, cook and eat them before they go bad. Sometimes I get vegetables that I honestly don’t know what to do with and don’t have the patience to learn about, so I try to pass them off to people that know what they are and how to enjoy them. You have to be prepared for a changing array of vegetables each week. While I was fortunate to receive kohlrabi two weeks in a row, it’s possible that next week kohlrabi will not be available and I may receive a new, unidentified (to me) vegetable.
The good news is that most greens are able to be blanched and frozen, so if you do not have time to eat everything right away, you can at least freeze portions of fresh greens. These are great for throwing into a crockpot at a later date to make something without heating up the kitchen in the summertime. Or, just use fresh greens to make soup in the crockpot and then freeze the soup. The possibilities with fresh produce are endless.
In today’s day and age, many farm shares also come with a recipe service. My farm share sends out emails each week detailing what is expected in that week’s share and includes recipes for some of the vegetables. Some farms also hold periodic events such as a dinner or harvest afternoon where you can learn to cook some of the vegetables included in your share or how to make items to complement your vegetables such as various types of homemade salad dressings.
Farm shares typically come in various sizes to match your household size. For a household of one, I have a small farm share, which is 4-5 vegetables per week. There is also a medium and large size available depending on how many people are in your household or how much you love vegetables. In prior years at a different farm, my share was comparable to the current medium size, and I was getting too many vegetables for a one-person household. I was freezing and sharing a lot of the veggies. I am thankful that my current farm offers a smaller size share because it is more manageable for me to handle on a weekly basis.
Many local farms offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. In my particular geographic region, there is about a three-page list of farms to contact if you are interested in a CSA share. I have changed farms in different years depending on vegetables offered, size of share, and pick-up times and locations. In prior years, I used to pick up my vegetables at a farm in a neighboring town about 30 minutes away on a Saturday. This year, I decided to switch to a different farm so I can pick up my vegetables down the road from my job after I get out of work on Thursdays. It’s just easier to pick them up on my way home after work than to spend an hour on a Saturday driving to a particular farm.
While I joined my farm share early – in March – for a reduced early bird rate that allowed me to pay in three installments, many farms also offer pro-rated shares if you choose to join partway into the season. For example, my share is now on week 3 of week 22. It is still possible for someone to purchase a CSA through my farm at a pro-rated amount since they have essentially missed out on the first month of veggies. So if this is the first you are hearing of Community Supported Agriculture, it is not too late to find a farm to join!
I love picking up my vegetables each week and talking to the farmers who grow my food. I know that my money has gone to supporting local families and most importantly, I know exactly where my food came from and that I am getting the highest quality and freshest produce. Talk about farm to table!
Here’s hoping for a few more weeks of kohlrabi. My farmers know that kohlrabi is my favorite vegetable, so they have been allowing me to take a few extra. That’s service. Support your local farmer!