We couldn’t have described the reasons for becoming a CSA member better… thank you Chantelle and Chris!
“Ten reasons why we continue to subscribe to School Farm CSA”
It’s our third year of being School Farm CSA members, so it feels like a good time to reflect on what it’s been like for us:
1. Excellent value for money: It works out at around £15 per week for a largish box of fresh organic produce. It is possible to pay in instalments at no extra cost. A share fed our family of three hungry people with some to spare and would have stretched to four. We supplement with a sack of potatoes, a few mushrooms (these are not supplied by the CSA) and some fruit every now and then.
2. Ultra fresh, ultra local, good quality: In our experience the produce keeps well, and lasts longer than some of the veg we have bought in the shops. Veg is usually picked on the day of collection and it only has to travel from the farm in Dartington. Less food thrown away, fewer food miles and no more bendy carrots! Occasionally a little ‘ugly’ veg is included but that’s fine with us as it tastes the same and cuts food waste. The carrot shaped like a thingy caused much merriment.
3. Reliable: With every year that passes we feel even more confident that the CSA will feed us well! The first year we were members, we felt as though we were taking a bit of a gamble as the weather was terrible over the summer but we told ourselves that it would be okay, the farm is well run by qualified and well trained horticulturalists…and sure enough, every week our box was stuffed with a decent quantity and variety of fruit and veg. In contrast, the following summer was long and hot, and School Farm CSA again supplied us with abundant amounts and a good variety of decent produce. Who knows what the weather will bring for the 2016 growing season, but I’m confident that the veg boxes will be good.
4. Good variety and flavour: The farm grows varieties that are bred for flavour, some that are heirloom and some that are not available in the shops. Multicoloured or stripy tomatoes with that homegrown smell and taste, and golden beetroot with beautiful patterns when you cut them open are our favourites. Since being members we have enjoyed french beans, strawberries, peas, raspberries, chard, parsnips, brussel sprouts, spinach, mange tout, lettuce, cucumber, herbs, tomatoes, cabbage, courgettes, pumpkins, butternut squash, aubergines, turnips, peppers, carrots, broad beans, dried beans, artichokes, onions, edible flowers, beetroot and runner beans.
5. Encouragement to eat more fruit and veg: Yes, this even applies to vegetarians, carnivore husbands and fussy children! Incidentally, if there’s stuff you won’t use in your box, there is a swaps box at the collection point to allow you to exchange what you won’t eat for something that you will.
6. Be part of the CSA community: There’s no pressure either way, which I like as we each have different lives and priorities. You can get as involved with the farm (or not) as you wish, but there are regular child friendly open days to see the farm, learn how crops grow, and meet the staff,volunteers and other members. Open days usually involve cake…
7. Get out of a mealtime rut: We used to rotate the same ten or so dishes for our evening meals and it was a bit boring. Now we base the meals on what’s in our box, we have discovered new favourite meals. We have also found new ways to incorporate more veg into old favourites, saving money by padding out meat rich dishes. Totnes library has a good selection of cook books and there are loads of tried and tested recipes on the internet that we have bookmarked.
8. Support biodiversity: The biodiversity on the farm is awe inspiring and a testament to the sensitive way in which the land is managed. It’s good to have somewhere near where we live that supports wildlife, particularly with the number of habitats shrinking due to new development.
9. Support local livelihoods: School Farm CSA is run by four enterprising, hard working (and very likeable) women. A stereotype busting example for the children in your life demonstrating that young women can become successful farmers! Supporting local producers like School Farm CSA also helps support more local employment and keeps more money in our area.
10. Support training of the local workforce: There is a lot of expertise on the farm that the farmers generously pass on to others. There are opportunities for anyone (young people, unemployed, career changers, etc) to learn about horticulture at the farm through courses, apprenticeships, mentoring and volunteering. I like that the farm showcases alternative careers for young people that might want / need to stay in the area.
So here’s looking forward to the start of the 2016 harvest in June…
(By Chantelle and Chris Norton, School Farm CSA members)