Experiencing the aromas and taste of fresh-picked, lovingly grown produce has revitalized our sense of how food ought to be. Filling in with store-bought produce during winter months is a reminder of how precious and healthful real food can be. Being members has kindled our plan to renovate and expand our greenhouse and become more committed to outdoor veggie gardening. Similarly, the enormous enjoyment of fresh-baked artisanal breads from Rise Up! led to our baking our own breads. And our cooking repertoire has greatly benefited from CSA membership. Last summer's bounty of of gorgeous savoy cabbages was perfect motivation for discovering and trying new recipes.
Gardening for one, with my massage practice, my woodland stewardship activities, and my community activism, just wasn't possible, so the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative's CSA has been a blessing for me for the past 5 or 6 years now - a gift each week during harvest season - organic, fresh, locally grown, great variety, and supportive of our local farmers, too - what can be better? Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Well, I joined the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative CSA after talking to Maud at the Hanley Farm day on a cool and rainy day last spring. I was figuring I was out of luck as my Village Farm CSA had collapsed due to the landlord not guaranteeing the farm’s availability due to “progress” in creating a new industrial park in east Ashland. Maud assured me they had space for us and off we went!
What I love the most is like asking which child is my favorite! Here’s the number one: we get fresh veggies that are grown with love, sweat and tears that are local and seasonal. Further more, due to the nature of the CSA, veggies show up that we might not have ever tried before and that’s a treat.
As a consumer, hands down, I save a fortune compared to the Grower’s Market. While I still shop a bit at the grower’s market, I love the luxury of having all my veggies sitting in a cool bin at a neighbors house and the fact that paying up front is a whole bunch cheaper than shopping at the Grower’s market. (I really think this is a huge benefit to a consumer who wants to a) eat healthy and local and b) wants to save money c) would be save time, but the market is a social and cultural event and that’s important as well.
Has the CSA improved and changed how we eat? Yes! All spring, summer and fall, we buy no vegetables at the grocery store, we eat local fresh food every day, and no veggies or fruits trucked in! Having reaped the benefits: spiritual, nutritional and sociological of fresh and local, we joined the Thrive network over the winter so we are still eating fresh local foods. I think that gradually this type of food gathering: local and seasonal will become more of the norm.
Here’s something else that is at least as important as any of the above: we are helping grow a local farming community that is made up of individual farms, which don’t grow for corporations and don’t practice monoculture farming. I am hopeful that the farmers are earning a good living for doing work that is vital, both for our valley and our country. The supermarket is so last century (at least for fresh food!).
Doug Shipley and Deborah Holden
We joined the SSC because their produce is just plain delicious! Before moving here, we already knew about and used produce (i.e., organic) that doesn’t smell or taste like cleaning fluids, but in the big city it was always at least a little “tired” and we were uncomfortable with how much fossil fuel was consumed getting it to our Whole Foods store. Here, we know that nothing in our box traveled no more than a few miles from garden to our refrigerator. Our SSC gives us the luxury of not having to include second-class produce in our grocery-shopping, which saves trips to town. We relish the adventure of cooking around whatever is in the box. And the new tastes – wow! We can have the wonderful flavor of celery (albeit in ugly celeriac packaging) without the nasty strings in our teeth. Slow cooker mashed potatoes, parsnips and celeriac is healthy comfort food of the gods. The winter carrots, roasted, are so sweet they make a great dessert or after-school snack. Because we are very uncomfortable wasting food, we make an effort to be sure we eat everything in each box, which means we automatically are getting a whole lot more vegetables, and very nutritious ones at that, than our pre-CSA days. There’s no question that at first, we winced at the price of our CSA produce, but as we’ve continued with it, we also compare prices for organic produce in the local stores and our CSA compares very favorably. It’s clearly a matter of getting what we pay for. For us the biggest challenge is finding the right size box order and it varies from year to year. How has our SSC CSA membership changed our lives? We are totally spoiled!
Priscilla & Steve Weaver