Shipments of fresh produce being imported to the United States are being disrupted due to covid-19. With borders being shut down, production levels slowing down, and transportation becoming more of a challenge, the US may not be able to import as many avocados & strawberries from Mexico, grapes & blueberries from Chile & Peru, bananas from Guatemala, Ecuador, and Honduras, or pineapple from Costa Rica.
Simply put, we may see shortages of fresh produce in our local markets and grocery stores.
With so many restaurants being closed, our farmers in the US are facing challenges as well: the drastic reduction in restaurant dining could put some farms in financial despair.
There is no better time than now to support your local farmers and your families fresh food supply by joining a local CSA. Sure, you already support your local farmers by buying from them at Farmers Markets but none of us knows for sure if Farmers Markets will even be open this summer.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture: it’s a farm in which individuals purchase a “crop share” for the growing season. During season, share members either visit the farm weekly and/or pick up their shares at a pre-determined location. Shareholders financially support their local farmer in advance to grow fresh vegetables for them in the growing season.
The CSA that I have been a part of for several years now costs approx. $33/weekly and includes eggs, homemade bread, honey, a variety of veggies, microgreens, and fresh-cut flowers among other things. The contents of each week’s share varies and is dependent on which organic veggies are ready for harvest. Most veggies are harvested on-site and just hours before pickup but my farmer has been known to partner with other local farmers, like the ones at the Mile High Fungi company, to provide exotic mushrooms to shareholders.
Visiting the farm, getting to know my farmer, cutting flowers, picking up my veggies, and frolicking around with the animals at the farm have become some of my favorite summertime activities and often include some of the most exciting moments of my week. This year, being a shareholder in the CSA takes on a different meaning as I find gratitude and safety in securing fresh produce for the upcoming summer months that hold uncertainty for many households.
If I haven’t convinced you to seek out a CSA yet, here are a few more reasons to consider:
- Instead of the same-ole-same produce that you find at a grocery store, CSA’s tend to provide rare/heirloom varieties such as Lemon Basil, Cupcake Squash, and Lions Mane Mushrooms.
- There is very little waste produced from packaging and transporting your veggies, you typically bring-your-own-bag.
- If any animals are present on the farm, they are treated humanely.
- The produce is organic & pesticide-free and is often more affordable than what your local market sells it for.
- Produce is harvested when it’s perfectly ripe and will land from the farm to your table in a matter of days (if not hours.)
- Get to know your farmer and gain a relationship with your food and where it originates. At the farm I visit, shareholders are allowed to tour the gardens and interact with them.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to join a CSA. If you participate in a CSA program, I’d love to hear about your experience – please share in the comments! If you are not yet part of a CSA and would like to shop around for a farm in your local community, you can visit the USDA’s website or LocalHarvest. Also, a shoutout to Roost Farms, the farm that provides food for my table.