Since 2011, my husband and I have survived the harsh, long New England winters in part thanks to our winter Community Supported Agriculture share.
At our farm (and your mileage may vary), winter shares begin in early November and we pick up our veggies at the farm twice a month through early March. Those fresh, delicious, organic vegetables seem to make winter a little less bleak.
I highly recommend winter CSA shares (and summer ones too, but that’s another post). Not all farms have them, but they’re awesome if you can find one. Below are some tips and some of what I’ve learned over the past three winters of our participation:
I never regret spending the money for our share
The initial price tag may seem like a lot of money for produce, but once you’ve paid you’re set for the season, and it feels like getting free food every pick-up. I know I wouldn’t consume nearly as much produce if I didn’t have a share at our farm.
Our CSA meets the bulk of our produce needs for the winter
The farm we use has a variety of size options and, though it’s taken a bit of trial and error about how much we’ll eat in the winter, I love knowing where almost all our vegetables come from. I buy very little produce in the supermarket, which is awesome.
Don’t sign up for a winter share if you don’t like root vegetables or squash
Once December strikes (at least in New England), our CSA pick-ups start to look really redundant. Most of the vegetables are being stored, not harvested. Amazingly, I never did get tired of potatoes, squash, or turnips. Plus, our CSA share has given me the opportunity to try out new things like rutabagas, parsnips, beets, chard, and Brussels sprouts.
Creativity is important
Since there’s not a lot of variety from week to week in a winter share, I’ve found it incredibly helpful to have a big recipe collection. Thank goodness for Google, Pinterest and food blogs [and Offbeat Home & Life’s recipes!]. If you don’t want to get bored, creative uses for the food are a must.
Some of the produce has been sitting in the root cellar for a while already
I was a little surprised when some of our squashes went bad because I thought they’d last a really long time. I was then reminded that they’d been sitting at the farm for months since harvest before we’d picked them up. Just because you’re picking up root vegetables it doesn’t mean that they’ll keep forever.
Any other CSA members with winter shares? I’d love to hear your tips, advice and/or experiences!