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Despite my earlier protestations, and with much appreciated assistance, I not only planted what turned out to be an overfilled garden, I har...

August 9, 2011

Our CSA & Urban farm adventure

For a few years now we have heard from our closest friends all the benefits of finding a CSA and how it helps local farmers as well as the community and of course us to feed ourselves and family's. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. This is a movement that allows consumers to buy locally grown seasonal food directly from farmers by pre-purchasing shares. Shares are bundles or boxes of a variety of produce. Shares can contain everything from vegetables and fruit to meat and cheese.

Now that I have become educated and in the know, I for one will stand up every chance I get to support them. However getting the DH to agree to it is an entirely different animal. (ie. think husband agree to prepay hundreds of dollars for food he can't see in fridge). Since I am the main shopper and home chef in this family I ultimately took the lead and forced the issue. We took the plunge and delved into the CSA pool early this spring. I tried very hard to be proactive and find one that would suit us. I don't know if it's the same in other locations but here in the Twin Cities some very smart individuals have come up with a very ingenious idea of having a CSA fair at one of our local co-ops. This made finding said pool of farmers/growers a bit easier for me and other Twin-Citians.

Deciding on who to go with once we were there became my major issue. The choices were immense and quite a bit overwhelming because there are so many considerations including costs, location of pick up sites, size of the share or shares needed, participation and activities at the farms, etc... Also, the fact that everyone we talked to had a mission we supported and agreed with which just confused me more... I won't speak for my daughter who usually assists me on my gardening and foodie adventures but the task seemed daunting even for her. For weeks after the fair we sat with pamphlet after pamphlet laid out before us....

During our visit to the CSA fair we met a very spunky little lady who sadly pro-claimed that all their shares were sold. How could this be? Their location was right in the metro area, which was perfect! Darn my husband for being right and telling me I better get there early....

Well I'll tell you I was drawn to the cause of these kids from "The Concrete Beet Farmers" from the start. Not just because the buzz around this group was busier than a hive in July (and believe me when I tell you it was a very cold day so I am only being a little facetious).  The concept and mission they have is amazing and inspiring and left me questioning myself "How come I couldn't think to take an unused dilapidated lot in the midst of the city and turn it into a functional agricultural collection of veggies instead of trash and debris?" Uh..... don't answer that. LOL

Years ago I lived very close to the area where they farm in Midtown South MinneapolisI would much rather see bright red tomatoes, kale, chard, potatoes, and basil than dirty diapers, used condoms, wrappers, and beer bottles. Although I was bummed that all the shares were spoken for I was given hope by one of the Emily's. Of which there are two working for and with this organization. This young visionary encouraged me to sign up for an email list which would give me access to extra shares if available. I did with a smile but cringed as I thought about receiving another piece of SPAM I couldn't use. "how could they possibly have extra shares because they are the new hot thing in this city of foodies and farmers?"  I am giddy to say that I finally responded to an email to receive extra produce last week. As my previous post shows I was in dire need of cucumbers for pickles. Not only did they have what I needed in multiple varieties, (lemon cukes are my new fave) but those dog gone Beet Farmers are the nicest folks. They work hard and it shows. They don't seem bummed out or stressed over the 1st overly wet then overly hot summer we've had here this summer and are still eager and very willing to show off their hard work.

As you can see I got pictures and a farm tour. This is what I was looking for from a CSA. It defeats the whole purpose of trying to be greener and more food aware if I'm going to still drive hours away to find "local" grown produce. This vendor is right in my own back yard so to speak and first on my list as far as CSA's go for next year. I will arrive at the CSA fair in my pajamas next year if I have to; to get on the list. I guess that is a little melodramatic and I could just call or email Alex, Emily, Eric or Emily too. Now with all that said Here are some pictures from my 1st visit with The concrete beet farmers. 
Eric & Emily (#2)