Posted Feb 21, 2019
The best part of getting a present is the anticipation of what is inside the box. If you know about Community Supported Agriculture, then you know what a gift a CSA membership can be.
Tomorrow, February 22, is CSA Day. Local Harvest suggests that over 4,000 CSAs are offered across the country, andthis includes severalfrom Green City Marketfarmers. Not quite sure what a CSA is? You are not alone. We thought we’d give you a little tutorial!
At Green City Market, several of our farmers and vendors offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. CSAs come in all shapes and sizes. Typically, a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. When you sign up for a CSA, you're subscribing to receive a regular supply of local produce and provisions on a weekly (or bi-weekly, or monthly - frequency can vary) basis. Once you're enrolled in a CSA program, your share is either delivered to your home or available for pick-up at the market or pick-up points throughout Chicago. Inside your box, you will find seasonal vegetables, fruit, meat, butter, eggs, bread and more, depending on the CSA and farm. Over the years, many varieties of CSAs have sprouted up and some farmers work together to offer their clients a greater variety.
CSAs have a tremendous impact on local farmers' livlihoods. It's is a chance for farmers to market and sell their food early in the year. Receiving payment early in the season not only substantially helps a farm's cash flow, it also helps them plan and plant more efficiently. Not to mention they get to know you, their customer, who gets to enjoy the food they grow all season long.
And enjoy you will. You’ll get all the benefits of farm-fresh food, plus you’ll get to try new vegetables you’ve never heard of before! Even better: you'll create a relationship with a local farm and come to think of it as “your” farm.
We asked some our farmers with CSA programs to share additional information with us:
- Growing Home Inc. is Chicago's first and only high production USDA Certified Organic farm, located in the Englewood neighborhood. “At our farm, we run an employment training program to help individuals with barriers to employment find and keep stable, full-time jobs. Through our USDA-certified organic farms, we also seek to provide healthy, fresh food and food education to our neighbors in Englewood,” said Renee Howarth, Food Access and Distribution Manager with Growing Home Inc. “We love being able to better connect with our greater Chicago community and build stronger relationships with people who love local, sustainable food. We can crop plan better, having a CSA lets us design the crop plan for a defined customer base. The CSA also acts as an early investment which allows us to purchase seeds, soil amendments, and other equipment we need to start our season. The CSA offers a better way to manage weeks where a harvest may be particularly abundant and we can't sell everything at a farmers market; the income from our CSA is really impactful on those rainy market days where no one comes out. Our CSA lets us try new crop varieties that we may not have been able to grow before because they are low producing or its too risky to grow them to be sold at markets,” said Howarth. Growing Home’s CSA directly supports their programming you can find more information on their website
- The folks at Mint Creek Farm says supporting their CSA program is a direct investment in local agriculture and the local economy. “Our CSA is unique and fun because there are so many options to choose from. Not only do we offer a wide variety of meat products (goat, lamb, beef, pork, turkey, chicken) but there is the option to add our eggs, which are soy-free and non-GMO,” said Nicole Stresa of Mint Creek Farms. “During the summer months, we partner with Three Plaid Farmers to offer seasonal veggies, herbs and flowers along with meats and eggs. Year-round Mint Creek’s CSA allows you to choose how much meat you will receive. From a pound a week to 20 lbs a month, folks can decide what is best for their family. For more information on check out Mint Creeks website.
For more information on our farmer's CSA, visit the Indoor Market on March 2nd and ask farmers about their CSA offerings.