Depending on where you live, it’s still on the early side to trek to the weekly farm market in your town. But it’s certainly the time to get your hands on share of the yield. If you live in California, Miami or other warm locales, you are in farm market heaven year-round!
CSA or Community Supported Agriculture gives us the chance to support a local family farm, ensuring its survival. With fewer than 1 million people claiming farming as their primary occupation, the small rural farm is in danger of becoming a thing of the past. And that would be very bad for us! More than 5 million family farms have been lost since 1935 and that’s a big deal. Small farms are self-sufficient foundations of rural communities, with business thriving on what farms produce; customers thriving on fresh food; farmers spending the money they earn in community businesses and the farm supporting itself so the cycle can continue. It’s a win-win-win-win!
Buying from a local farm allows the farm to profit so it’s less likely the land will have to be sold for development and can be kept intact as farm land. Our agricultural landscape will only survive as long as the farmers can make money to survive and support their families. But it’s more than money. Family farms (particularly organic growers) value the resources of fertile soil and clean water. Cover crops are planted to prevent erosion and replace nutrients. Many species of wildlife are in a perfect environment to thrive in the patchwork of our farmers’ fields, hedgerows, and ponds.
Buying from the local farm ensures better food quality. Fresh produce loses nutrients quickly so the more quickly it gets from the farm to your table, the better the nutrient-density…and the flavor. Produce that is forced to ripen on trucks or in rail cars as it ships can never compare to fresh-picked local produce.
For me the cherry on the cake of buying from the local farmer is that it connects me (us) to my (our) food. You know the face behind the kale and therefore you know the quality of the kale. You can engage with the farmer and discover, vicariously, what life on the farm is like. For a brief moment, you connect over food and nature and life is grand! Knowing where your food comes from is essential in making the healthiest choice for your loved ones…and you.
And if you can’t manage to buy into a CSA in your area, head to a farm market once the warm weather hits and they load their bins with the fresh ingredients of the season. The bustle of the market and the crowds create a magical atmosphere that is almost festive. And why not? You are surrounded by life and humanity and warmth. Just delicious!
How do you find a local farm market? Head to localharvest.org and search your area code for the farm market or CSA near you.
Here’s one of my favorite spring recipes when I can get fresh fava beans from my local farm. (You can use frozen, but the fresh are so-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o much nicer.)