by Caroline

Our CSA* resumes today after its winter break, and I am unreasonably excited. It’s not like we don’t have access to excellent produce in the winter. We visit a Sunday farmer’s market just two blocks from home, so we can track the winter’s progress from pear to pomegranate. I chat with the egg farmer about how her “ladies” hunker down in their coop when it rains. I buy honey sticks from neighbors whose bees live in the community garden, four blocks away.

But, still; the CSA means spring to me. Despite twenty years living in a state where something can always be harvested, despite witnessing that winter harvest every Sunday at the market, I still, deep down, expect a winter shutdown. Winter is for seed catalogs and spring, now, is for the first sprouting seeds.

I love the CSA because of all the ways it differs from choosing food at the market. I don’t get to choose green d’anjou pears over red, I don’t get to pick out the easy-peel satsumas instead of minneolas: I take what they give me and figure out what to do with it (a task really made easier by the fact that our CSA share always comes with recipes; I think many others do, too). We’ve learned that we all really love agretti and that cardoons are an interesting change of pace. I love the schedule (a midweek collection fits perfectly with my weekend market habit) and the pick-up location (my sons’ school) can’t be beat. As a lucky bonus, our CSA farmer happens to be a terrific writer, so the vegetables come each week with a newsletter with his musings about dirt, windbreaks, strawberries or whatever else strikes him that week. I look forward to the newsletter each week almost as much as I do the vegetables.

Are you signed up for a CSA? I’m curious to hear when it begins, and how it affects how your family eats. I’ll start posting some of our favorite CSA-inspired recipes in the coming weeks. And if you’re not signed up for a CSA, you can look for one in your area by checking out Local Harvest.

* Community Supported Agriculture produce pick-up