As moms, we’re all looking for ways to feed our families wholesome, nutritious foods including more fruits and vegetables. Farmer’s Markets are a great place to pick up fruits and veggies but they are often a minefield of imported produce posing as local. So what is the discerning parent to do?
One way to make sure that you are truly getting local produce is to join a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Generally how it works is that you pay up front for a “share” of a farm’s harvest. Many CSA’s have a full share which is for families of 3-4 people and a half share for 1-2 people. Average pricing for the Calgary area is approximately $300 for a half share and $550 – $600 for a full share. Deliveries are usually once per week for 10 – 12 weeks. Farms normally drop off in Calgary and may have one or multiple drop off locations.
Sounds great, right? It is but there are some things you need to consider before you sign on the dotted line. Some CSA’s are certified organic, some don’t use pesticides or fertilizers but aren’t certified, some use farm machinery, some don’t. Determining what is important to you and how much of a tradeoff you are willing to make is important. Farming practices will affect the type of vegetables you get and when. Many CSAs also have other products you can add on to your membership such as farm fresh eggs.
The last most important thing to remember is that you are buying a share of the harvest. It’s a bit like gambling. You could get an untold bounty of beautiful veggies or you could get very little. There are no guarantees.
Last year I bought a half share from Thompson Small Farm for our family of 3 (2 adults & 1 toddler). This farm does not use farm equipment. They farm using livestock and do not use pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Through the season we received kale, swiss chard, broccoli, onions, carrots, potatoes,turnips, kohlrabi, etc. I also signed up for one dozen fresh eggs from their free range chickens. I really enjoyed having a variety of fresh veggies every week that I had to use. It really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I had to find a way to get my family to eat kale!
This year, I’m going to spread the support love a bit and sign up with Eagle Creek farms. They use normal farm equipment and don’t use pesticide or chemical fertilizers. Their CSA offers a wider variety of vegetables than Thompson Small Farm.
Regardless of the CSA you choose, you will meet the people behind where your food is coming from and quite possibly broaden your family’s horizons beyond broccoli and corn.
Calgary Area CSAs (most accept applications in February/March and fill up fast)
Thompson Small Farm – http://www.thompsonsmallfarm.ca/
Eagle Creek Farms – http://www.eaglecreekfarms.ca/ (Register link is broken. Just email them)
Noble Gardens – http://noblegardens.blogspot.com/
Eat Food for Life – http://www.EATFoodforLife.ca/ (This is a meat CSA)
Merry is a full time working mom of one preschooler and step-mom to two tweens. In between all the work & drama, she loves cooking, social media and blogging about her hectic life over at Merry With Children.