This may be the most excited I’ve ever been about vegetables

I‘ve been hearing about community supported agriculture (CSA) for quite some time, and meaning to do it for a while. The way it works is that you buy a “share” in a local farm early in the year, and then you get a regular selection of the fruits and/or vegetables harvested from the farm at a lesser price than you’d pay at the farmer’s market or roadside stand.

I am a strong believer in buying local food. I’ve blogged before about how much I like the Manotick Butcher for their local, sustainably-raised meat. I will drive out of my way for SunTech cherry tomatoes (oh my, have you tried them? They’re like candy!) But I have been reluctant to get involved with CSA before now for one reason: we are not adventurous eaters. I really don’t know what I’d do with a box of kale.

I’ve been hearing about Roots and Shoots farm since we moved to Manotick (they’re also behind the new Manotick farmer’s market I mentioned earlier), and a few times I stopped by their weekly farm stand in the village. It was serendipitous clicking that brought me to their website on the weekend, where I finally dispelled the “box of kale” myth by reading the anticipated contents of a weekly share in July: arugula (ok), pak choy (um, what?), beets (Beloved and my mother love ’em), carrots (check!), Swiss chard (sure, why not?), radish (yes please!), green onions (yum!), zucchini (love it!), peas (see above reference re: candy), lettuce (mmmm) and herbs.

Nothing too intimidating there, and it only gets better in August (add cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and beans to the mix) and September (add spinach, potatoes, and mini-watermelons to the mix). Yummity yum yum.

I love this for so many reasons. First and foremost, I love the idea of having a steady supply of fresh, local healthy produce for the summer. There are enough familiar foods to satisfy my comfort level, and enough new foods that I won’t be too intimidated to try something new.

I’ve been struggling with one boy in particular who doesn’t like vegetables, and I think this is a terrific way to engage him. I don’t seem to be quite organized enough to build that backyard vegetable patch I’ve been dreaming of, but this may be the next best thing. How fun is it to be driving past “our” farm regularly, talking about what’s growing and anticipating harvest time? And Roots and Shoots is open to visits, so we can bring the boys to see where and how the vegetables actually grow.

245:365 Summer harvest

As if fresh, nutritious foods that come with built-in teachable moments is not enough, I have to give props to Roots and Shoots for following organic farming processes: “Certified Organic protects not only the health of the consumer, but also the health of the farmer, the ecosystems that produce the food, the waterways on the farm, and the biodiversity of the farm. It is for this reason that Roots and Shoots Farm supports and adheres to Certified Organic standards.”

Although we’re pretty excited about our farm share, we simply weren’t sure if we’d be able to consume the full weekly share of produce. Lucky for us, there’s also a half-share option. With a full share option, you get a share of produce each week for the 16 week harvest season. We chose the half share, so we get one share every two weeks. At $290 for the summer, I think that’s an amazing deal.

Aside from everything above, I think it’s the idea of co-commitment that most enamours me. From the share contract:

You as the Shareholder, commit to understanding the challenges of growing seasonal vegetables. If the forces of nature make certain crops less available, you will accept that with grace and understanding. We the farmers commit to working with a large variety of vegetables so as to minimize any potential effects of losing a crop or two. We commit to using our many years of experience, good techniques and equipment to provide you with the best quality of vegetables for the duration of the season.

You as the Shareholder, commit to reading all of the CSA information found on this website, to educate yourself about what being part of a CSA is like. We the farmers commit to providing you with information from the farm throughout the season through weekly newsletters. We commit to providing you with opportunities to visit the farm and take part in vegetable growing should you want to.

Together we commit to contributing to a more healthy, safe and sustainable food system that is locally-oriented, and that inspires community interaction around food. We, the farmers, look forward to getting to know you and enjoying the season together.

And very best of all, it provides me with a season worth of blog fodder! Come along for the ride as we answer pressing questions like “what exactly is pak choy and what do you do with it” and “who will win the dinnertime bean battle”? I’m thinking we need a new category for these posts, but my Muse must be out hoeing the back 40. Feeling inspired, bloggy peeps? What can I call a series of posts based reaping the benefits of a CSA harvest?

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

3 thoughts on “This may be the most excited I’ve ever been about vegetables”

  1. I love this. I looked up Roots and Shoots a while back and considered it but we are fairly far from their pickup location and i didn’t want to make it harder on myself that it needed to be. There must be one closer to me. Or maybe Bryson Farms, I think they deliver. I also love this stuff.

  2. I have been a satisfied Bryson customer for over a year. They deliver year-round. You do have to be flexible as each week is a bit of a surprise.

  3. That’s such a fantastic idea! I love everything about it. I’m genuinely excited! We tried the backyard garden last year, put the ground is mostly clay and stone, so only a few things actually grew. We had great success with tomatoes grown in a planter though. This year we’ll do the same and add another of peas.

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