Community Supported Agriculture. Before this March I had no idea what that meant. Then I spotted a flier. "Did you know that a tomato usually travels 1300 miles from where it is grown before you eat it in your salad?" Hmm. Interesting. I stored the name away in my mind and weeks later I found Harvest Valley Farm's website. http://www.harvestvalleyfarms.com/index.html
When I figured out what a CSA was, it sounded too good to be true. Sustainable? Limited fertilizer and pesticide? Variety of produce? A crate of fresh produce delivered 1/2 mile from our house each week from May through November? It all checked out, so I sent in our deposit check. We pay $410 for the entire season (in monthly installments) for this privilege. I cannot tell you how convenient and wonderful it is every week to get delivered this surprising and varying assortment of produce. It is like Christmas every week.
Yesterday we got 12 ears of corn, three onions, five Gala apples, a head of Romaine lettuce, a giant spaghetti squash, three patty pan squashes, two zucchini, and a box of concord grapes. It was different the week before as seen in the picture above. Butternut squash, red peppers, apples, cantaloupe, concord grapes, green beans, arugula, and corn.
We often get fruits and vegetables that I am accustomed to eating (as noted above). Occasionally we got something new. Like kohlrabi. That was a nice surprise. Crunchy and delicately flavored. We also received some other treats in the beginning when the produce selection was leaner, like cheese, eggs, bread and honey. The farmers King send a weekly newsletter telling of happenings on the farm, what produce is coming up, what is ending and give a recipe for one of the items in the crate that week.
There are several options for CSAs in this area. One that has been around for a long time is through Kretchmann's Farm. The bonus of this CSA is that it is organic. According to a few subscribers I've spoken to, though, the downside is that they get "a lot of leaves" and have some wormy produce (an unfortunate fact of organic produce?). This link will lead you to Slow Food Pittsburgh's list of the CSAs available in this area: http://www.slowfoodpgh.com/csa.html. I would highly recommend to anyone to participate in a CSA. Share a "share" with someone if you think it would be too much for you or your family alone.