Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Supporting local agriculture

From Janie Sheppard

This is a first installment of reporting on a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Bill and I bought half a share in Adam Gaska and Paula Manalo’s Mendocino Organics Winter CSA.  Saturday we picked up our first basket of winter vegetables.

If you don’t already know about CSA’s, here are the basics:

Economics. Non-farmers pay a local farmer to grow their vegetables.  The non-farmers pay up front for the whole season, thereby assuming the risk of crop failure while allowing the farmer to make all his or her seed and equipment purchases without having to arrange for credit, which as the recent economic crisis reminds us, is hard to get.  Extending credit to farmers, especially the small local farmers, has never been easy.  CSA’s solve that problem handily.

Logistics. Each week CSA members pick-up, or get delivered to them, a basket of food that represents a share of that week’s harvest.  Our CSA is organized into groups of people who live near enough to each other to share the pick-up and delivery jobs.  The groups also share sorting the food into the individual baskets.  The farmer brings the harvest to a central location where the sorting takes place.  Our CSA sorts at the Saturday Ukiah Farmers Market.

Food. Having purchased half a share, Bill and I got beets and beet greens, broccoli, carrots, Red Russian kale, onions, pac choi, potatoes, rutabaga, turnips and acorn and kuri squashes.  All the food for our CSA is biodynamically grown, meaning that it is not only grown to federal “organic” standards and certified locally under the Renegade program of Mendocino Organic Network, but also according to biodynamic standards.  Those standards involve making soil and compost preparations to enliven the soil which feeds the crops and animals.  Not a student of biodynamic farming methods, I can tell you only that they produce superior food, really superior food.  For example, our broccoli is the best looking (and tasting) broccoli I’ve ever seen.  Being a broccoli afficianado, this makes me particularly happy.  Each week’s share is posted on the CSA website, MendoOrganicsCSA .

Challenge. The way I see it, the challenge is to plan meals that include all the delicious vegetables.  Last night we had wilted beet greens and kale to accompany some delicious fish, and tonight I plan to cook broccoli and try out a recipe for Maple-braised turnips and carrots.  We don’t need more protein, having had enough yesterday to last a couple of days.  Besides, the vegetables have protein, just not in huge amounts or composed of the same amino acids as flesh.  Over the winter I foresee eating less flesh and more vegetables, which has to be good for the planet as well as for us.


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