Joining a CSA is a great way to try out new foods, explore new recipes, and build relationships with local farmers to create a meaningful experience for your family. Let Crème de la Crème of Westerville, OH show you how to find the perfect CSA box in our area.
The Benefits of Joining a CSA
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Joining a CSA comes with heaps of benefits for both you and your family as well as the local community. So, just what IS a CSA? The letters stand for “community-supported agriculture,” which gives some insight into how CSAs work. Basically, you’ll pay for a share of your chosen farm before the season begins. That helps local farmers get the money they need ahead of time so they can buy supplies like equipment and seeds. You’ll usually find options for weekly or biweekly delivery or pickups for shares that work for 1-4 people.
Think of CSA boxes like your favorite streaming subscription service, only for food. You can find CSA boxes with fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, baked goods, and more, so you can get in on the goodness no matter your dietary and cooking habits. You’ll typically find subscriptions for the growing season (think: around June through September, though the exact dates will vary). Some of the many benefits of joining a CSA include:
- Supporting local farmers: Buying directly from a farm supports that farm and family, making sure they can keep providing food for your community. You’ll also create a relationship with local farmers, making mealtime all the more special when you cook using products from your box.
- Getting your kids to try new foods: Your weekly bounty may include something you’ve never considered eating. Plus, you’ll get to experiment with different healthy recipes with the foods you receive.
- Saving time and money: Picking up a pre-made box (or even getting it delivered to your door) takes less effort than choosing and bagging things at the store yourself. As long as you use what you get in your box, you’ll likely save money on the same amount and quality elsewhere.
- Gaining an understanding of local agriculture and seasons: Unpacking your CSA box gets you in touch with the area’s seasons. Many boxes offer newsletters to explain field conditions and why they’ve harvested products early or late. This builds a connection to the land that’s hard to get in today’s world.
But the number one reason to join a CSA? That would be the amazing access to super fresh, locally grown products. Farms tend to give members the very best produce, so you’ll have fresh, tasty fruits, veggies, and more to enjoy with your family.
Choosing the Right CSA for Your Family
Once you’re hooked on the idea of joining a CSA, you’ll want to take some time to ensure you choose the right one for your family before you dive in. At their best, CSA boxes open up a world of food choices. If you don’t choose wisely, though, you run the risk of ending up with tons of unused produce you have to throw out each week. Here are some things to consider to find a CSA that fits with your family’s needs:
- Share size: The share size you need will depend on how many eaters you have in your house — and how adventurous everyone is when it comes to unexpected food options. Check if a farm offers half shares if you think you’ll get too much to use. If you’ve fallen for a farm but they don’t offer small enough shares, consider splitting a bigger box with a neighbor or a friend.
- Payment choices and work requirements: Some farms may require you to pay in full before the season starts. Others may allow you to pay in installments. You may also find farms that let you trade labor on the farm for part of your payment — some farms even require members to work on the farm, which can offer a great experience for some families and a real hassle for others. All that to say, you’ll need to do some research, but you can find a farm that fits your needs and desires.
- Pick-up options: Make sure you can make it to your pick-up time and place before you commit, and find out what happens if you can’t make your scheduled pick-up day.
- Box choices: You can find CSAs that offer free choice boxes and others that come as pre-packaged boxes. Again, the right fit depends on personal preferences. A pre-packaged box may save you some time in making decisions, but you might also get products you’re less inclined to use. On the other hand, that can give you the inspiration you need to get creative in the kitchen!
- Variety and add-ons: You’ll want to have a general sense of products you can expect to receive and honestly assess whether you and your family want to get more adventurous with new flavors or stick to familiar territory. You can also see if your CSA offers add-ons like bread, eggs, or cheese to save shopping time.
How Can You Find a CSA in Westerville?
Westerville families are in luck with a range of local options available. You can plug your zip code into the Local Harvest website to pull up a list of CSA offerings close to home. Some area farms to check out include:
- New Century CSA: New Century CSA delivers a customized weekly box right to your door, making it super convenient to get a wealth of farm-fresh goodies.
- Paige’s Produce: Paige’s Produce is a small, family-owned farm that has a pick-up right at the Clintonville Farmers Market in Columbus.
- Yankee Street Farm and Garden: Yankee Street Farm offers boxes stocked with healthy produce as well as recipes and tips for using it, and they have a drop-off close to Westerville in Galena.
There you have it, Crème de la Crème of Westerville’s guide to finding a CSA box close to home. Do you already have a favorite farm your family loves in our area? How about a tip for creatively using the products you discover in your weekly box? Drop us a line so we can share your recommendation with other local families!