A small apology to the out of towners - sprinkled about in the next few posts, we're going to be talking about where we get good produce, poultry and meat from locally. Only a small apology, because even if the actual names and places don't mean anything to you, the ideas behind them should.
Last year was our first with a local CSA - if you're unaware, CSA = Community Supported Agriculture. It's very simple, you sign up to get a share of a local farm's output once a week throughout the growing season. You pay for your share up front. You are at the mercy of the farm and the weather for what will be in your bag each week. The farm and the family (these are small family farms for the most part) get their income up front, which as a farm, helps them plan ahead, and as a family, helps them live. You end up with incredible, fresh produce that's usually been picked within a day of you receiving it.
There a few choices in the Buffalo area - we went with Native Offerings. We signed up with two coworkers to split a full veggie share and a fruit share (all our own), and once a week went to one of the four drop off points after work. You get to pick your out of overflowing bins and boxes, weigh your potatoes and apples and pack your bags (one guy would show up with a laundry basket).
The only problem is that it's quite hazardous driving home while rapidly trying to devour the three pounds of warm strawberries sitting on the seat next to you.
In addition to fruit and veggies, they have pork and beef shares as well, but we stuck with the produce. It was a great experience - yes, there were moments when we didn't want to deal with another hearty, leafy, bitter green, but that's how it works. It felt like being on Iron Chef on some weeks as the fridge would be overflowing with vegetables, some of which we hadn't encountered before. Here's a pile of the greens (note the 18 inch asparagus - incredible broiled/grilled) from a spring pickup.
We're going with Native Offerings again this year, but there are others with different options and pickup locations. Porter Farms is another I've heard good things about, and we've had their produce before (sold at the Lexington Co-op) and it's all been good. Buffalo Rising has a rundown of a number of the local options here.
You could also just buy veggies at a farm stand or farmer's market each week, which we do to supplement the share from the farm, but it feels good to be part of something, and it definitely gives the farm some certainty.
So we're excited for Round 2. And mizuna and mustard greens? I'm waiting. I'm ready.
Victory will be mine.