CSA - Community Shared/Supported Agriculture

In an ideal situation I would be growing all the vegetables that I eat during the summer in my garden, but my situation does not meet the requirements - I work full time, live in the city and have limited green space.  I grow as much as I can, but not nearly enough to sustain me during the warmer months (plus I really only like growing peppers, so that would make for one tummy ache of a summer).  For the past few years I’ve been getting most of my vegetables through a Community Supported Agriculture program.  If you don’t know about them, here’s some info:

What is Community Shared/Supported Agriculture (CSA)? 

A CSA farm brings together farmers and people in neighboring communities into a mutually beneficial and direct relationship. CSA farmers receive a pre-determined fee from you, the consumer, before the start of the growing season. In return, you receive shares in the farm’s bounty, usually in the form of a weekly box of produce.  (source: http://csamanitoba.org/)

How do you get your vegetables?

The farm you get your share from will let you know the specific details, but for the most part, the process is same regardless of where you order from.  We get our summer vegetables from Boundary Creek Farm, if you’re in the Winnipeg area you should definitely check them out.  At the start of each year we register for a share.  Once the summer is underway, I get an email letting me know where our weekly pick up will be.  Boundary Creek gives you the option to pick up directly from the farm or to choose from an in-city pick up point.  Our pick up point has been a street over from where we live, so we’ve lucked out on that front.  Once the harvesting starts, we get an email each week letting us know what to expect in our share.  On our pick up day, we bring out basket to our pick up location, transfer our veggies, check out name off the pick up list and walk home.  

What vegetables do you get?

The vegetables vary from week to week depending on what the farms grow and what is ready.  Over the summers, we’ve had a wide variety from the basics (lettuce, tomatoes, and beans) to the fun stuff (fennel, herbs and beets).

CSAs aren’t only for vegetables!

This winter we’ve become part of an egg CSA through Interlake Meadows Farm.  This program is great because you can schedule how often you want to pick up and for how long.  We did a six month stint and pick up two dozen eggs a month.

Resources for people in Manitoba:

Manitoba CSA farms - This site has some good background information and a list of CSA farms in Manitoba.

Food Matters Manitoba - This organization aims to grow the connection between Manitobans and their food.  They host quite a few interesting events and conferences like the Growing Local Conference.