This year my friend Colleen & I joined Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington, NJ. Honey Brook Organic Farm is a CSA (community supported agriculture) which means that a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public for a flat membership fee and in return the member receives a “box” of seasonal produce each week during the growing season. At Honey Brook Organic Farm they offer 3 different types of memberships — individual share (food for 2 people), a family share (food for 4-6), and a boxed share (food for 4, picked up at a location other than the farm). Since the farm is in NJ, the growing season typically lasts from late May through early November, but that is completely contingent on the weather and Mother Nature. Some years start earlier, some start later, and the bounty each week varies depending on the heat, amount of rain, early frosts etc.
This is my 3rd year being a member at Honey Brook Organic Farm, with a 2 year break in the middle because I moved to PA. During those 2 years, I missed the farm and the seasonal produce. I attempted to purchase all organic produce from stores like Wegmans & Whole Foods, but the prices started to get expensive, spending more than $25 a week where the farm membership worked out to about $16 a week.
So far this season, we have received Strawberries, Lettuce, Broccoli, Chard, Kale, Onions, Cabbage, Scallions, Beets, Potatoes, Sweet Corn, Peas, Collard Greens, Garlic, and Tomatoes (and probably some other veggies that I am forgetting since there have been so many). A few weeks ago there was an abundance of broccoli, and those with a family share got 10 heads! That week, we had broccoli with dinner, made broccoli & cheese quiche, and blanched & froze the rest for another day. When the strawberries were particularly ripe and beautiful, we were able to get 2 quarts, and they became some of the most delicious jam (I still have 2 jars in the pantry, but my son will polish those off before too long). This weeks over abundant crop — tomatoes! After eating them sliced with salt & pepper, having grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches, and slicing them up for burgers over the past few weeks I needed to try something new. Colleen shared her bruschetta recipe with me, and I’m in love. Now to figure out a way to can it so I can have fresh bruschetta in the dead of winter.
CSA are the best bet when it comes to produce. You are supporting local farms, and eating seasonally. The produce tastes better than anything you can purchase in a grocery store, and is cheaper than the organic produce you find in other places. The only limitations are mother nature and what can be grown in your region. Many CSAs are sold-out for the current growing season, but now is a great time to check out their websites, and preview what each CSA has to offer. Get on their mailing lists, and decide to support your local farms next year. In the interim, support local farm stands, grow your own produce or create a produce share with friends. With sustainably grown produce we all will benefit!
For more information on CSAs or to find a CSA in your area visit Local Harvest.
For more information about Honey Brook Organic Farm in Pennington or Chesterfield, NJ, go here.