This summer I have been looking for fun and interesting things to do with my son.  I’ve heard of apple picking in the fall, where you visit an apple orchard and pick your own apples.  So I thought there must be some kind of fruit picking in the summer.  I googled farms in my area and came across one that offered a tour and u pick your own watermelon.  While at the site they had this huge announcement that they were now part of the CSA.  What was a CSA I wondered?  I clicked on the link and learned that CSA stood for Community Supported Agriculture.  People in the community get the opportunity to buy local, seasonal produce directly from the farms and farms benefit by getting funding ahead of time ensuring that they will make some kind of profit from their harvest.  Read more about CSA .

I googled CSA in my area and found the Inland Empire CSA.  How it works is you subscribe to a certain amount of produce for a specified amount of time.  The choices were a full box (serves 4-6) or a half box (serves 1-3).  You choose a pickup location (usually farmer’s markets) and pickup frequency either weekly for bi-weekly.  Send in your subscription and payment and the farm emails you when you can start picking up your box.  I opted for a half box to be picked up every other week.  For first time members they have a trial for 4 weeks for $112.  So that’s $28 a week on fresh, organic fruits and vegetables or in my case since I’m picking up bi-weekly it’s $14 for 8 weeks.  Not bad!

I signed and mailed in my subscription that same day.  I loved the concept of the CSA and couldn’t wait to try it out.  Within a couple of days I got an email from the farm warmly welcoming me to the CSA.  They sent sample attachments that tell what you got in your box for the week, information about what’s going on at the farm, and recipes.  I was also invited to join the CSA community online to dialogue with other members.  The best part about the email; I was going to be able to pick up my first box that Sunday!!

The family and I drove to the farmer’s market Sunday morning to pick up our first box.  During our drive I was telling my husband that in the email it said we would be getting about 15 different fruits and veggies.  We joked what if we got 2 of each thing?  2 tomatoes, 2 carrots, 2 ears of corn…  They DID say it was for 1 or 2 people.  ha ha  Organic food IS expensive.

We easily found the farm’s booth.  I gave them my name and they handed us our box.  I couldn’t wait to see what we got, so once we got to the car I peeled open the box flaps.  I was giddy with excitement.  Who would’ve known one can get so excited over produce?  Oooh leeks!  (dig, dig)  Oooh swiss chard!  (dig, dig) Oh what is this?  Looks exactly like carrots but white.  And no it wasn’t just 2 leeks, 2 leafs of swiss chard, and 2 white carrots.  It was approximately the same size that are bunched when you see them at the market.

So here is everything I got in my box:  leeks, chard, the white carrots I later found out are parsnips, garlic, yellow & red onions, cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, cilantro, grapefruit, oranges, beets, radishes, tomatoes, yellow string beans, avocados, tomatillos, and 2 ears of corn (corn is really hard to grow organic thus the 2 🙂

Whenever I buy oranges at the market they ALWAYS seem to be dried out or sour, basically YUCK!  So I don’t really buy oranges.  When I saw the oranges in the box I was thinking, “Oh great, oranges.”  To my surprise they were not dried out or sour in fact they were exactly the opposite:  juicy, sweet, DELICIOUS.  I made a stuffed zucchini with the zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and yellow onion from the box mixed with potatoes and sharp cheese.  The freshness of the vegetables really made a difference.  Everything tasted clean and crisp.   My husband who doesn’t prefer ‘healthy’ food kept asking for more!  Now that is success.

I should have taken a picture of my first dish using my CSA produce.  I will be posting more about my experiences with the CSA with pictures soon!  So far I LOVE the Inland Empire CSA and I urge you to give them a try!