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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute is offering again, at the end of January 2012, Community Supported Agriculture classes for beginning farmers.

I have been a CSA member for a few years now, both in Iowa and Wisconsin, and I have to say it was one of the best decisions I have made (when it comes to food).  If you are thinking about ways to green up your plate with fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, think about joining a CSA.

If you have secret aspirations to become the next Iron Chef of America (in your family), a weekly vegetable box from a CSA could provide great training (I only watched the show once so I might not quite understand it).  The CSA I belong to is offering winter shares, so I am expecting vegetables all the way to Christmas!  Some are fresh, and some are frozen, and when I cook I have to stick with the contents of the box.  You know how on the show, the chefs are surprised by the ingredients they have to work with.  Well, no surprise ingredients for me in the CSA box – just in-season, full-of-flavor, harvested-at-their-peak-time vegetables.  I am not a chef, as any of my friends can tell you, but I can make a pan of stir-fry vegetables in no time, or a mean vegetable stew.  I also have to say that I have been blessed with a child who loves vegetables.  She expects veggies in her school lunch box and proudly shows her friends the purple cauliflower she packed for snack.

I know the CSA model might not be perfect for every family, as it is not perfect for all farmers.  The cost to belong can also be an issue, but most CSAs offer worker shares.  (You can work for the farmers and receive payment in produce.)  My daughter loved picking strawberries and raspberries, but the thing we both loved most was to see what else was in season in the CSA box.

So, if your New Year’s resolution is about putting good food on your plate, consider signing up for a CSA share.  Start with talking with a CSA farmer, or come to Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and we will be more than happy to answer your questions.  One of our goals is to connect you with good food and the farmers who produce it.  If you come in January you could also meet the farmers taking our CSA planning course.  Welcome all!