Summer's brightly colored fruits and veggies are well on their way. Are you smiling in anticipation yet? A farm share subscription at a CSA farm may be just what you need to prepare you for a season of mouthwatering delights. Whether poking through the roadside stands, wandering the fields on a U-pick tour, or waiting for the CSA goodies to arrive, there are many ways for you (and me!) to enjoy fresh, local produce.
What Is a CSA Farm?
Community-supported agriculture, or CSA, brings farmers and shareholders together every year. When you purchase a share of the expected seasonal items, you take part in a growing venture that delivers fresh and locally grown produce to your door or nearby pick-up location. How handy is that? You can even visit the farm (or farms) that grow your fruits and vegetables (and sometimes eggs, flowers, or meat). Each week is guaranteed to please, since it will never be the same produce on your countertop.
The rise in raw, locally grown food has had a wonderful impact on CSA farms. People like to know how their food is grown and what techniques have been used to produce each item. So, when are you joining your CSA farm?
Fruits and Vegetables
Each farm is planted with prime produce, but what is grown will depend on the local micro climate as much as the life cycle of the plant itself. In general, you can expect to find summer fruits like blackberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, plums, pears, navel oranges, strawberries, cucumbers, summer squash, beans, cherries, and muskmelons. Doesn't that sound delicious? Summer herbs and vegetables in season may include lettuce, carrots, beets, cilantro, basil, parsley, chard, potatoes, spinach, radish, and chives. Some CSAs are incorporating less-common fruits and veggies into their production cycle as well. How about collecting fresh lychee fruit, Thai bananas, or figs—or creating a fantastic dish with fennel?
Finding Your Local CSA
Farm share operations don't have to be located in rural areas! Here in Orange County, I've picked up fresh produce from Tanaka Farms in Irvine, and I've seen advertisements for VR Green Farms in San Clemente and South Coast Farms in San Juan Capistrano. Just outside the county border, but still serving the Orange County region, are Rainbow Ranch Farms in Piñon Hills and Morning Song Farm in Rainbow. Gorgeous scenery! Since these CSA farms are urban or suburban, they're a breeze to reach. Many of the farms even sell their produce at the weekly farmers markets. Some farms host different events for members and nonmembers of the community. Check them out, and visit others near you.
Roasted Farm-Fresh Medley
Imagine this: A large box of fresh fruits and veggies arrived at your door earlier in the week. You've enjoyed the produce, but now you're worried the remainder will spoil. Have you considered a roasted medley? Here's a great recipe with which I've found success that incorporates many of the items you'll receive in your weekly box.
Gather the following summer produce:
- 3 to 4 small potatoes, cubed
- 2 to 3 large carrots, quartered and sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- 2 beets, sliced into quarters or eighths
- 1 sweet pepper (color of your choice), chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small summer squash, sliced into 1/4-inch round pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
Other ingredients you'll need:
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves cut into small squares
- Fresh rosemary leaves separated from the stalk
- Dried dill spice (optional)
- Dried parsley spice (also optional)
Start by mixing all of your pieces in a large mixing bowl, and tossing with olive oil, dill spice, and parsley spice. Separate the seasoned summer squash into a smaller dish, and set it aside. Place the remainder of the mixture in an oven-safe dish, and roast for 30 to 35 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add summer squash, fresh basil, and fresh rosemary, and then place your dish back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Let it cool slightly before serving.
All ovens are different, so remember to adjust your cooking times as needed! Feel free to substitute your own produce if these aren't available to you. This recipe makes 5 to 6 servings.
Farm share opportunities are cropping up in many locations across the country. Some farms might be just down the road. Consider joining a CSA farm to reap the rewards of delicious produce before it's all eaten!
Do you already receive your fruits and veggies from a CSA farm? Share all the details about the tasty dishes you whip up!
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