They are popping up more and more all the time. Some with bands, balloons, and streamers, and for most of the rest of us…confusion. I am talking about CSAs. Maybe you have seen boxes of veg at one of your local coffee shops, or some ad/flyer on the community bulletin board in a grocery store or some other spot (usually back by the bathrooms) and wondered what they were either out loud, or as most of us do, jam it into the bowels of our brain.
Lets shed a little light to our peeps on Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and specifically showcase one in particular, Changing Seasons Farm, out in Carnation, WA.
How Does a CSA Work-Nutshell Version
A CSA is like having a vegetable subscription. Each week, based on what is available on the farm that you subscribe to, you will pick up a box of veg. No more trips to the supermarket for out-of-state, or even out-of-country produce, but a box of local, tastier, fresher veg for your home and family.
Dave and Laura of Changing Seasons Farm have been gardening, well, pretty much forever. When they lived in Seattle, Dave would plant a garden anywhere he could, including the boulevard patch of grass by their sidewalk! When they moved to Eastern King County to Carnation, they had a small home with several garden beds, a small greenhouse, and an orchard. From there they purchased what is now Changing Seasons Farm, over 20 acres of plush farmland along the bank of the Snoqualmie River. The gardening, turned into farming and what was once pasture, contains two large greenhouses and several acres devoted to a variety of veg.
Both Dave and Laura have other careers so when asked why they spend their “down time” doing such hard work, Laura replied, “Even though it is VERY HARD work, knowing that we are feeding people is really satisfying.” She went on, “you never really know how many people you really can feed. We are not in it for the money, we are doing this because we believe in it.”
That belief has translated into about 20 weekly veg subscriptions. Her customers will have the option of picking up their boxes at the farm (directions from Gilman Village in Issaquah here), or at Small Threads, a kids clothing consignment store on Gilman (directions from Gilman Village here). As you can probably guess, not everything will be available at the same time. Farmers stagger some of the crops so that there is a good representation of veg throughout the summer and in the fall in our climate and region (King County)
Veg Produce Include:
Late June to mid-July: Pea pods, lettuce, chard, scallions, carrots, beets, artichokes, garlic scapes, radish, boc choi, arugula
Mid-July through August: Tomatoes, peppers, sweet onions, potatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, chard, basil, garlic
September: Corn, tomatoes, peppers, sweet onions, potatoes, summer squash, cucumbers, beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, leeks, cabbage, chard, broccoli, kale, basil, garlic
October: Winter squash, potatoes, cabbage, sweet onions, scallions, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, shallots, lettuce, leeks, beets, carrots, chard, broccoli, kale
Plants and Herbs: Also offer a few herb plants, tomato starts, and several varieties of shrubs, sapling trees, and other plants throughout the season.
Just like the acronym states, CSAs really are “community supported.” Laura shares that the whole Snoqualmie Valley is quick to share knowledge, tools, lend a hand, and mentor. They ALL learn from each other. Since there are well over 1 million people just in King County, there is room for many more farmers and there is plenty of business to be had for everyone. Competition really is “not an issue” says Laura. “We have a large customer base, we will all benefit.”
The Future is Bright
The outlook appears to be more than positive for CSAs, especially in a community where citizens are taking a much more active role in the where-does-their-food-come-from education process. With a strong urban farmers market community in Seattle, and more and more city, and suburb families wanting fresher, local, produce, there is a lot of optimism for Community Supported Agriculture and room for more farmers, young and retired throughout our region, our state, and hopefully the country. Expensive? Not really says Laura…it actually works out to be about the same as what you would pay at one of the big supermakets, except for WAY LESS travel cost, and of course fresh, ripe, recently picked produce from a Salmon-safe, naturally grown, LOCAL farmer.
Want to be a member of the Changing Seasons Farm CSA? Contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a ring at 425-591-0369. If their subscriptions are full, she will gladly refer you to one of her friends in the Snoqualmie Valley. There are several choices around King County, so find one that is right for you and your family and please SUPPORT LOCAL FOOD through CSAs.