Straight from the Farm

My first real adventure onto a farm was nearly five years ago.  Now, I’d been strawberry, blueberry and apple picking before and as a kid my family even went to a tree farm to cut down our Christmas tree (that is, after the disastrous year where we cut one from our yard and shared the holiday with a houseful of ants).  Anyway, this was my first time to a farm that produces organic and sustainably grown vegetables, fruits, and grass fed beef.  At my farm (I know it’s not really mine, but I kind of feel like it is) I volunteered every week from May to November and got a share of the produce in exchange for 4 hours of sweaty, but fun labor (I have to say, there’s nothing like a crazy okra fight with the overgrown pods!).  I learned to harvest potatoes, tomatoes, squash, peas, beans, corn, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, peppers, and more.  I can honestly say that meeting the farmers and being in the dirt with the vegetables changed my relationship with food.  As the weather gets warmer, I can tell it’s getting closer to CSA season and time for me to go to my farm again!

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s a great way to buy local, fresh food directly from a farmer near you (occasionally you’re lucky enough to find a farm where you can volunteer for your share).  For most CSAs you pay up front at the beginning of the season, which is often 16-27 weeks, and then receive a weekly share of whatever the farm produces that week.  CSAs are great for you because you get fresh food, an opportunity to know how your food is grown, and the ability to eat food that hasn’t traveled a ridiculous number of miles to reach your table.

How do you know if a CSA is for you?  CSAs are for the cook who doesn’t mind being adventurous and trying new foods (ever cooked bok choy? Now you can try it!).  It’s for people who are willing to be a bit spontaneous and adjust their weekly meal plan to fit what they get in their CSA box.  And CSAs aren’t limited to produce either, some farms offer meat, eggs or flowers.  If you’re interested in local farms that have a CSA, visit LocalHarvest

And one more pitch for the local food movement: Check out the 16th annual Piedmont Farm Tour on Saturday & Sunday, April 16th & 17th from 1 PM – 5 PM.  Forty local farms participate, and this is a great chance to meet local farmers and tour their farms.  The farm tour is sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and Weaver Street Market.  A $25/car tax-deductible donation is requested (if purchased in advance or $30/car day of) or volunteer and attend for FREE.

This could be your chance to have a real adventure onto a farm!

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