The days are getting longer, flowers are bursting into bloom, and the shelves of grocery stores are laden with enticing spring fruits and vegetables like strawberries and asparagus. Portland is full of places to shop, from upscale grocery stores to neighborhood farmers’ markets. Finding high quality produce for a low price can present a real challenge though.
More and more people these days are gravitating towards the benefits of organics, which are more natural, more flavorful, and considered by many to be more nutritious. They also have a much higher price tag than most of the fruits and veggies you’ll find at the supermarket. Many Portlanders are also getting interested in the local food movement, believing that food grown locally in its natural season is healthier than eating pineapples in January. The local food movement strengthens our communities by keeping us connected to the farmers who grow our food, and by bringing us closer to the rhythms of planting, tilling and harvesting. Because it takes much less energy to bring a crate of strawberries from Sauvie’s Island than it does from New Zealand consuming locally grown food also is good for the environment.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a method of connecting local farmers with local consumers. In this model subscribers like you and me purchase a portion of the output of a local farm(s) thus guaranteeing us a steady supply of locally grown produce. Subscribing to a CSA is an excellent way of obtaining a steady supply of locally grown produce throughout the summer. When you belong to a CSA you get a box of fresh veggies every week either delivered directly to your house or to a drop off spot in your neighborhood.
My roommates and I had a CSA a couple years ago, and we never knew what to expect! Every week we picked up a box overflowing with parsnips, onions, potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes. We never knew what we’d be getting, but it was all delicious and fresh. The variety really helped me branch out with my cooking repertoire. We got to see our vegetables growing in the fields, and meet the farmers growing them. While the label organic can have any number of meanings, having a CSA gives you the first hand opportunity to see that your produce is grown in a sustainable, pesticide free environment.
If you think you might be interested in subscribing to a CSA go to the Community Supported Agriculture Coalition (PACSAC)’s website, at http://www.portlandcsa.org. On the PACSAC website you will find a description of twenty local CSAs as well as how to contact them and links to each of their individual websites. Here are three of the Portland area CSAs currently listed on the PACSAC website.
Creative Growers CSA- supplies vegetables to many local chefs. Specializes in European and heirloom varieties. 25 week CSA available from June to November
Moomaw Family Farm- a meat CSA specializing in pork, chicken, turkey, lamb and rabbit raised on a small farm with humane conditions. This one is just up and coming, and will begin delivering July 2013
Rising Stone Farms-located on nearby Johnson Creek, this CSA provides not only fruits and vegetables, but medicinal herbs as well. They are committed to using natural methods of farming, and grow their produce using biodynamics and bio intensive farming. Also looking for volunteers