CSA Orientation Day & Why I’m not a Farmer

by Her Happy Balance on May 7, 2013

Back in December, I got accepted as a member into a local CSA. I wrote a really excited post then detailing what exactly a CSA is, but I’ll bring my new readers up to speed.

Lettuce field filled with tons of varieties of lettuce that I will apparently be spending some quality time with in the near future...

Lettuce fields filled with tons of varieties of lettuce that I will apparently be spending some quality time with in the near future…

What? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Joining one essentially means that I purchased a share in a farm for one growing season. So by paying a fee, I am guaranteed a portion of the farm’s harvest from the Spring to the Fall. Every other week I will be picking up a bag full of different produce!

All those yellow weeds are what they termed a "pollinating preserve." AKA a place for all the bugs to go and enjoy life and not destroy our crops. I dig it.

All those yellow weeds are what the farmer’s termed a “pollinating preserve.” AKA a place for all the bugs to go and enjoy life and not destroy our crops. I dig it.

Why? The produce grown on the farm is so diverse! Ever heard of mizuna? Yeah, me either. But I will be eating it in just a few short weeks. I’ll have the opportunity to branch out of my veggie/fruit comfort zone and try a bunch of new goodies. But the main perk of a CSA – I will know the farmer’s growing my food and  exactly how my produce is farmed.

Garlic fields...here's to delicious Italian food and bad breath! Here, here!

Garlic fields…here’s to delicious Italian food and bad breath! Here, here!

Sunday when I went in for my orientation, I got to learn the layout of the barn and the system for how I will be picking up my food.  I learned that on pick-up day, they will have a chalk board set up that lists how much of each type of veggie I should take. For example: “1 head of kale, 1 head of romaine, 2 heads of bok choy, etc.”  After I grab each veggie, I will move onto the “this or that” station. From here I will have the choice of selecting a few veggies that cater to my specific tastes. Would you rather enjoy some mustard greens or radishes?

IMG_2401

Ooo the dandelion greens are Italian? So much fancier and cultured than me!

After learning about how to pick-up my produce, I went on a tour of the “U-pick” fields and gardens. This has to be the coolest thing ever. In addition to my bi-weekly bounty of veggies, I can also help myself to an herb garden, flower garden, and U-Pick fields. During the tour we got to ask questions, and I learned that my produce is grown with organic soil, watered with on-site well water and rain (duh), and that the farmer’s practice “green” techniques. No pesticides of any kind on my greens 🙂

Behind the deer fence, is the U-Pick strawberry fields!

Behind the deer fence, is the U-Pick strawberry fields!

After the tour, we were allowed to pick out any plant seedlings we wanted (for free!) to take home and try to grow on our own! I took a few tomato seedlings, an eggplant, and an okra seedling. Let the growing begin!

My baby seedlings! Hoping I sprout a green thumb and get these little guys growing!

My baby seedlings! Hoping I sprout a green thumb and get these little guys growing!

And after walking through the fields at the farm I was asking myself, why did I not pursue farming as my career?! You get to spend the day outside in nature, probably getting a stellar tan, and you get to see the benefits of your efforts in the form of living, delicious fruits and veggies!  Oh wait…

That, my friends, is the look of sheer terror that my "Oh, take a picture of me in front of the cows, they're a billion miles away and won't mind" face when I realized I had a moo-ing guest up close an personal.

That, my friends, is the look of sheer terror that my “Oh, take a picture of me in front of the cows, they’re a billion miles away and won’t mind” picture turned into an up close and personal encounter with a moo-ing guest.

That’s why I’m not a farmer. Even though this farm doesn’t have any cows…I think I’ll stick to doing a few hours of work on the farm weeding the gardens and let the farmers do the rest.

Thoughts??

Would you/have you ever joined a CSA?

What’s one funky veggie that most people haven’t heard of that you love to eat?

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

Meghan May 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Greetings, Leslee! 🙂
Because of you, (since yesterday’s post) my friend and I have been looking up places to do this in Atlanta. I am so excited for you and can’t wait to see all the healthy and fresh produce you get to use! How did you hear about doing something like this? Seriously, best idea ever. If I can get into one, I’m going to join. It’s definitely worth it. I can’t believe I had never heard of this! I don’t think I’m wild with my veggies at all but this might be a good way to get that way! I mean, who doesn’t love a girl with a wild side for veggies? Right now I’d say Brussels but those are super trendy and therefore make me a loser for saying so. <3 Have a fab Tuesday my dear!
Shalom,
Meghan

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

My dearest Meghan,
I am so tremendously excited that you’re researching CSAs near you! How are winters in Georgia? Mild? If you can’t find a CSA for this growing season sometimes they offer CSAs in the winter with heartier crops like pumpkins, gourds, potatoes, leeks, etc. So you could look into that if you can’t find anything good now 🙂 Brussels are trendy..but they’re new to me too so we can both be losers haha
hope your weathers better….it’s raining in Philly now. Le sigh.
Yours til Niagra Falls,
Leslee

Becky @ Olives n Wine May 7, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I love the idea of a CSA but I also love selecting my own veggies at my local farmers market. Some year I’ll get the courage to sign up for a CSA near me! And, crazy or not, I would LOOOVE to be a farmer! I love working outdoors and growing food and taking care of animals. I think it would be my perfect job 🙂

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Farmer’s markets are so much fun to explore, especially on a bright weekend morning 🙂 I have zero clue as to how I am going to cook half of these new veggies…but luckily the CSA offers a cooking class and some techniques and tips for using them. I think I’ll have to attend that 🙂

Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl May 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I am not sure that it is “funky,” but a lot of people think I am weird for eating kale…especially kale chips!! They are missing out, though! 😉

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Plus all the crazy health benefits associated with kale…they’re definitely missing out!

Chelsea May 7, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Wow! Without a doubt that’s the coolest CSA I’ve ever heard of! We have a few similar programs in our area, but they all entail just a bag of groceries delivered to a pick-up point – definitely no U-Pick station or This or That choices! So great job on finding a totally awesome CSA (and for, you know, keeping an eye on sustainability and “green” issues – that’s totally RAD!)

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Hi Chelsea 🙂 Thanks so much for visiting my site! I am ridiculously excited to get my farmer Brown on and start helping out at the CSA. I actually chose this one because it happens to be the closest farm to where I live, but I think I lucked out with a good one!

Caitlin May 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

That’s AWESOME that you get to pick some of the veggies you want. Most of the CSAs around us are “you get what we give you” which is great to a point…but what if you give me something I really don’t like and then I’m stuck with it? I want to do some more research into the CSAs, though, and see if they offer a similar option to that….I’d be all about joining if they did…till then, we’ll be sticking with the farmers market on Saturdays 🙂

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm

They also have a “give or take” area where you can chose to put some of the produce that you don’t like for that particular week into a bin and take something else from the bin that you might like better. The farmer’s definitely seem conscious of trying to make people happy and satisfying all tastes. Farmer’s markest sound like an excellent plan though. You can always find a really great vender with some fun goodies.

April May 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm

One of my favorites is spaghetti squash! Not too unusual, but lots of friends had never heard of it until I showed them.

My roommate loves to garden and our new house has a perfect spot for it-hello roof deck with skyline views! I’m going to try my hand at it again this year, but urban gardens are trickier because everything’s in planters.

I want to see if my roommates would like to join a CSA like this one-no way would I be able to eat all those vegetables by myself, even though Callie is a dog that adores her arugula…..

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Callie likes arugala? Well her and I would be two peas in a pod, it’s delicious! And a CSA for one person would be a little rough. Jim and I are splitting a half share with my parents. I’m sure you and your roommates collectively could do some damage 🙂 Thanks for commenting, prez!

Chelsea @ LittleOneRuns May 7, 2013 at 3:00 pm

This is too cool!! I would do this only if I didn’t have the room to plant my own garden. I do love growing my own garden 🙂 But this is just awesome, it would defiantly force me to try new things!

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I think this summer I will be living off of any produce because I have my own home garden with herbs/tomatoes/peppers and then access to the CSAs gardens and produce as well. I think some funky veg head experiments are in my future! I hope your garden grows like crazy this year and you get tons of fun veggies!

Nicole @ FruitnFitness May 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm

I love picking out my own produce at the farmers markets and talking to the people who grow the food. When I was in high school my mom and I got a CSA box every month and had so much fun experimenting with all the different foods. I would love to do it again but currently buying groceries for one is easier to do in small quantities at the local farmers market.

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm

There will be lots of experimenting I’m sure 🙂 I’m actually splitting my half share with my parents because I don’t think I could go through all those veggies on my own. And farmer’s markets are so much fun to peruse on nice weekend mornings 🙂

Thien @ Thien's New Adventures May 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm

I feel so ignorant! I’ve never heard of a CSA! I’m so impressed with the whole thing and that you’re doing it…I’m going to creep around on the internet today about local CSAs. Good luck on your seedlings!

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm

It’s new to me too! This is the first year I’m trying it out…I’ll be posting the funky new goodies on here I’m sure. Good luck with your researching 🙂 And if my seedlings hold up…I’ll ship you some okra! haha

bezzymates May 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Never heard of the CSA. Sounds really interesting to learn about agriculture and unusual vegetation. Good for you! My veggie selection is pretty dull, although when I lived in Mexico I love Nopales (this is a cactus type plant.) I had it in juices and smoothies or sautéed and it’s very healthy.

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I’ve never heard of Nopales! Is it unavailable in the states? I’m intrigued.

Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom May 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Um, absolutely I would join a CSA…this sounds GREAT for my vegetarian self!!! For now though, I’ll stick with local produce. I have to be honest, I don’t really eat too many funky veggies..so it looks like I’ll have to break out 😉 I’m not terrified of cows, but I have that same reaction to horses. Like I cannot breathe, full blown panic attack. Terrified.

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Girl, you would be in veggie heaven 🙂 And it’s not so much that I’m scared of cows, but more that when he starting taking the photo there were no cows in my proximity…and I turn around and that guy was right next to me. I was surprised! 🙂 And horses are pretty large, powerful creatures, so I can understand how you would feel some fear associated with them.

Andrea @pencils and pancakes May 8, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I just did a post about joining a CSA! I’m so excited for it to start!!! Am I would absolutely love to be a farmer. It’s actually a dream my fiancé and I have….someday…
Also I totally forgot about your blog and in mad at myself! It hasn’t been showing up on my wordpress feed!

Her Happy Balance May 8, 2013 at 11:37 pm

We can be CSA blogging buddies! 🙂 And thanks for finding me again. Ever since I switched to self hosting my blog, I’ve lost some of my Wordpress.com readers. Big happenings on the blog coming soon though!! 🙂 And I tell you what, if you take care of the cows, then I’ll take care of the plants on the farm. Deal?

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