So……there’s been a fantastic response to this morning’s Facebook post about the winter CSA. (Note to social media: I’m sorry I ever considered you irrelevant.) And the question’s come up a few times now from potential Beans: what’s a typical winter share going to be like?
And that question, more than anything else, explains why our first winter CSA is priced lower than many other local ones. Because honestly…….I don’t know. There is a steep learning curve here, and I expect to slide off of it a few times.
Here’s what I do know: there will be salad greens and cooking greens from the hoophouse. There will be winter-storage crops (potatoes, winter squashes, etc) that I will buy, this first year, from other local organic farmers. (I didn’t know the hoophouse was going to be ready so quickly, and up and running for winter production this year, so I did not plant enough this summer for a winter CSA.) There will be fruit from two farms that supplied us with some items for the regular season. If the bag doesn’t meet the standard of awesomeness, we’ll put in value-added items. In the regular season, we’ve added freshly ground whole wheat flour, cider, ricotta cheese, cookies, muffins, butter, bean sprouts, or fresh bread. Since we have several vegetarian Beans, meat is not included in the CSA bags. (However, Steve’s soups may not all be vegetarian. If there’s a good response to the soup share idea, he hopes to offer options in the future.)
At first I saw these additions as something a bit embarrassing – a sign that I’d messed up the cabbage that was supposed to have gone in that week’s bag, or underplanted the radishes, or whatever. But I learned that our Beans enjoy what’s come to be known as the ‘brown-bag surprise’ in the occasional delivery, and that they either embrace the spirit of adventure which is part of the Cool Beans experience, or they leave us and move to a CSA which has a longer track record, a larger staff, and the ability to tell people a week ahead of time what to expect in their bag, something to which I can only aspire. I can direct you to those CSAs if you think they’re a better fit for you, and I’ll do so without hesitation or hard feelings. There’s fantastic CSA programs around here run by some amazing people, and you need to find the one where you’ll be happiest.
I’m getting better every year at figuring how much to plant, and I’m finding some awesome local CSA farmers who are willing to swap produce sometimes, so we will never have a repeat of the summer of ’09, also known as the Summer of Unending Chard. I don’t want to eat chard six nights a week, so I don’t expect my Beans to. In ’09, we finally swapped chard for cucumbers and swapped the cucumbers for something else and swapped that for chocolate pudding made with organic ingredients locally from Keswick Creamery, and put the pudding in our CSA bags. Ever since then, Cool Beans has been moving more and more towards a cooperative approach with other CSAs, so we get to share the bounty of each farm. Eating local food needn’t be grim.
Your bag will be packed with care and love, but that’s the only specifics I’ve got for you. Well, that and ‘not too much chard.’