What is a CSA?

WHAT IS A CSA?
By Stacey Jackowski

With spring comes an opportunity to invest in local farming and reap dividends as the harvests yield the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture.

A CSA is a share in a farm’s bounty. You can purchase a spring, summer, whole, half or partial share. The program helps the farmers by offsetting some of their expenses, but more importantly you get to share in the bounty of fresh locally grown produce, dairy and even fresh eggs. Once the farms begin harvesting their crops, they share the bounty with CSA shareholders. With various levels of membership there’s sure to be one to fit every budget. Costs for a season run from $100 to a high of $2500 depending on your choice of program.

Each week, shareholders receive a box filled with seasonal ingredients. In March my friends Terry and Jane, who had split a share in CSA through Practically Organic in Edgewater www.practically-organic.com received lettuce, broccoli, spinach, Portobello mushrooms, beets, carrots and spring onions. Quite a nice treat for the beginning of the season.

A CSA is a way to support our local farmers by purchasing things grown right in our neighborhoods, cities and towns. For distribution there will be a centrally-located drop-off point, such as a church or civic center. Or, you can choose to visit the farm directly and pick up your share. Better yet, you can opt to pick your own vegetables. For more details log onto www.marylandagriculture.info and click farms.

Some of the benefits of a CSA include:
• Purchasing and consuming locally grown, fresh (sustainable) produce.
• Establishing a relationship with the farmers and farms where your food is grown.
• Exposure to new produce you may not have otherwise tried.
• Expanding your creativity by finding new and exciting ways to cook or prepare your CSA products.

If you prefer not to commit to a CSA share, you can find the same sustainable produce at a number of local farmer’s markets in our area, including Harry S. Truman Parkway, The Nordstrom’s parking lot at the Mall and the parking lot at Compromise Street by City Dock. Log onto www.marylandsbest.net for hours and more locations.

One of the first crops that is already available is asparagus. Yum! Here is a recipe to get your creative juices and your taste buds flowing.

BLANCHED ASPARAGUS OVER MIXED LETTUCES

1 bunch asparagus
Mixed lettuces (whatever is available)
2 radishes
Lemon Aioli (recipe below)

Wash and trim the tough ends of asparagus. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and your whole asparagus. Cook asparagus for 2 to 4 minutes or until fork-tender.
Remove the asparagus and place in ice water to stop the cooking process and keep their beautiful green color. Wash and dry fresh lettuce and put in a large salad bowl, arrange blanched asparagus and sliced radishes on top. Drizzle with lemon aioli and, viola a beautiful, easy and delicious seasonal salad.

Lemon Aioli
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Pinch of salt and white pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika

Mix all ingredients together until smooth.

Stacey Jackowski and Carla Lucente are chefs and co-owners of b.b. Bistro in West Annapolis. They specialize in locally grown, seasonal food and locally roasted coffee. They can be reached at 410 990-4646.

Partial list of CSA farms in the Bay area:
Priapi Gardens, Cecilton www.priapigardens.com
Roundabout Hills Farm, Glenwood www.roundabouthills.com
Nice Farms Creamery, Federalsburg www.nicefarmscreamery.com
MD Sunrise Farm, LLC, Gambrills www.mdsunrisefarm.com
Dragonfly Farms, Mount Airy www.dffarms.com

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