Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Home and Community Gardening

11/13/2013 9:49:00 AM

Tags: CSA, community supported agriculture, Fertile Grounds, Erik Thiel, Pennsylvania

greensThis is the last week the CSA share will be available to pick up until next season. A lonely cloud filled with depression swept over the yellow, Fertile Grounds delivery truck as I handed in our flattened boxes, placed the fresh produce in re-usable grocery bags, and said good-bye to the woman whose kind hello and quick exchange of a few words I’ve come to weekly appreciate.

I like to think of it as an extension to my home garden. Except I don’t have to physically tend to it. Instead, I and many other community members and families, financially support them. They also received a grant from the USDA in 2012. This pays for overhead costs and allows the CSA to educate the community about sustainable agriculture.

The home garden is a place for me to observe the forces of nature, to experience the changing seasons and connect to the force in control of it all, but in regards to time input versus food output, limitations do apply. There is always time in my life to garden, if only for a moment on some days, yet I still find myself going to the grocery store.

Now that I have a feel for what to expect from the CSA, I can plan my garden in accordance with theirs in order to reduce the amount of food I buy at the grocery store, and to get the most from my home garden. 

For the past 8 weeks of the growing season, I have been a member of my local CSA. Quite possibly each week I received kale. And kale I enjoy. At home, the cabbage worms have been enjoying the kale leaves a bit more than me, despite my constant handpicking. Next year, I won’t bother with planting kale, which will free up space for more broccoli, including romanesco.

potatoesMy favorite food of all is potatoes. There is no limit to my consumption. The only limit is to how much the home garden and my Dad’s garden, at this moment, are capable of producing. Not enough for my limitlessness is how much. I also hate purchasing potatoes from the grocery store, more than any other single item. Good thing the CSA offers extra potatoes for purchase, and although I love potatoes from them, I’ll make sure to continue growing potatoes at home.

Another item which seemed to be available each week, were squashes. Delicata, butternut, or spaghetti is what I’ll have my hopes up for again next season. This is great for when space is limited on the home front. Because then they exist. And I don’t even know where else, other than the CSA, I would be able to purchase organically produced squash.

That may be one of my favorite parts about the CSA. Everything is organically-produced. It’s just not certified-organic by the USDA. It’s also why I love the mystery of melonswondering what kind of greens each week will provide. Purchasing organic greens at the grocery store, transported from the nearest organically-certified farmer, for 5 dollars a pound and up, makes me upset. Especially when an entire pack of organic seeds costs less than that. Knowing I am getting organically produced greens freshly harvested exactly 23 miles away from my home heals all frustrations.

When items such as kale and potatoes, and greens such as lettuce and spinach, are tested for pesticide residues by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), then classified in order of most pesticide residues, with potatoes coming in tenth, I begin to develop more of a relationship with the food from the CSA. Greens, including kale, lettuce, and spinach are also placed in the top twenty. Not from the CSA.

Other than kale, potatoes, squash, and a bag of greens, Fertile Grounds goal is to give each member between 6 to 10 varieties of produce each week. I have successfully dried cayenne peppers and oregano, got addicted to jalapeno poppers and stuffed peppers, learned to cook with fresh sage and even received popcorn, all of which is currently non-existent at home.

In combination to the home garden, becoming a member of a CSA can help the home gardener overcome any limits posed by space, light, or time. The CSA also holds a lot of events for its members to get to know one another, and become more active within the community. Personally, I plan on applying to work as a harvester for one, full season soon. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. is a harvester’s work shift.

That’s plenty of time to consciously connect to the forces that be. And who knows, other than those forces, what boundaries can become limitless then?

To find a CSA near you, click here.

I hope to learn to live off the earth, in harmony with its forces and elements, and inspire others to come in contact with both their natural environment and inner selves through organic gardening. And by writing about my experiences through my blog. “All Is One” through our interconnectedness is the important thing I believe needs to be addressed.



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