From Stephanie Willis. Email her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter @shaw_girl.
Even though the farmers market looks a little barren right now, it’s probably time to think about the upcoming growing season. Why? Because it’s CSA sign up time! Around this time every year, local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Programs start accepting memberships for shares in their upcoming harvest.
By purchasing a share, members can pick up a box at a regularly scheduled interval (usually weekly) filled with fresh produce (and in some cases, dairy or meat too). The contents of the box usually change from week to week, so members will try a variety of produce over the course of their membership period.
As luck would have it, a newer CSA program this year, Oasis at Bird-in-Hand, will have a pick up location here in Borderstan! Last Saturday, I went to Smucker Farms of Lancaster County to find out more about it. (See Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. Opens Shop at 14th & W NW from Maggie Barron.)
Oasis at Bird-in-Hand is a collective of small farms located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. All of the farms use chemical free, organic farming methods to produce their vegetables. They use animals in lieu of tractors, and also do their part to preserve the land they harvest. By forming this collective, these small farms are able to thrive, in contrast to the many small farms currently struggling with financial hardship.
Several of the farmers were at Smucker Farms of Lancaster Co. on Saturday for a meet-and-greet with customers. They had samples of their meats and cheeses for customers to try and were answering questions about the upcoming CSA program. While gathering information about the CSA, I tried a sample of their raw milk cheddar cheese. The cheese had a sharp tang but melted into a silky smooth texture in my mouth. It was one of the best cheddar cheeses I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Sadly, I missed the samples of the brisket, but its intoxicating smell still permeated the store. The producers were glad to discuss their farming techniques and expressed excitement about the upcoming CSA.
The CSA will run for 25 weeks starting in mid-May, with weekly pickups at Smucker Farms of Lancaster County (conveniently located at 2118 14th Street NW). Each week, members will receive a box of freshly picked produce straight from the farm. The box will contain five to 11 items, depending on the available crops. Prior to their scheduled pickup day, Oasis at Bird-in-Hand will send members a newsletter detailing the produce they can expect in their box that week. The newsletter will also include information about the farms and suggested recipes for the produce.
The cost of a share is $590 for the 25-week period and it can easily be split with another person. There are a limited number of shares available, so hurry, before they sell-out by the mid February cut-off date! You can check out their website for more information about the CSA or to download the CSA application. Applications can also be dropped off at Smucker Farms of Lancaster, along with your payment. Then count the days ’til May!
Remember, Borderstanians, that the Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at 14th & U Streets NW will close for the season after November 22. Market hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturdays only.