Notes from a Transplant: Time to Join a CSA!

Every Thursday we hear from Suko, a former downstater who set her sights on relocating to upstate New York and made it happen. She’s now an artist, a farm educator and a Dutchess County gal.

Shelling out $500 in February, for produce you’ll begin to get in June, seems like a lot, but it breaks down to only $20-25 per week.

The benefits:

– Cook new food
Not sure what to do with that acorn squash or kholrabi, look it up. Supermarkets stock the same produce year round, so it’s easy to buy the same veggies and get in a cooking rut. (Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything and Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Vegetables and The Art of Simple Food and marthastewart.com have easy to follow, great recipes.)

 Attune yourself to the seasons
If you garden or join a CSA, you’ll have so much zucchini when it’s in season, you won’t crave it in February. Mizuna, kale and other leafy greens are zesty (and so exciting) in the spring, bitter after a heat wave, and sweetest after frost.

– Really taste your food
I’ve had a-ha moments with braised leeks, shallots and cippolini onions. An onion is not just an onion. A variety of flavors, and medicinal properties, Alliums are kind of amazing. In June, substitute spring onions to sweeten your recipes ‘cause that’s what’s coming out of the earth.

– Support farmers when their cash flow is low and their expenses are high!
Heating bills, seed orders, equipment repairs. Winter slows things down a bit (from a 70-80 hr work week to 40-50 hrs) and the land is resting, but farmers are still farming. Joining a CSA early helps farmers plan how much and what varieties to plant.

– Keep upstate beautiful
Good farmland in the Hudson Valley has an asking price of $8-12k an acre and relatively high property taxes even with agricultural tax breaks. Open land will only remain open if the landowners can afford to keep it.

– Support organic farms that feed people while protecting the watershed, sequestering carbon, and encouraging bio-diversity and a healthy ecosystem.

To find a CSA in your upstate community,  ask around, look for flyers at the wine shop, hardware store, cafe- independent locally owned business, or check out Local Harvest. If you’re in the city you can still support upstate communities (with your dollars and votes). Just Food can help you locate a CSA or start a new drop off location.

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