Several years ago we discovered a local community farm that sells summer shares (they have since introduced spring and fall shares). We were instantly attracted to the idea of getting a basket full of fresh, organic produce each week. We have not been disappointed. For about $300 per 3-4 month season, we get a basket bursting with that week's harvest. What is also amazing is that we had no idea what "real" radishes, garlic, lettuce, and tomatoes tasted like before. When allowed to grow as nature intended, these vegetables are like nothing you have ever tasted. Never a big fan of tomatoes, the ones grown at the farm changed my entire outlook on what a tomato should be like. When I came home with our weekly bounty yesterday, my husband said, "I get so excited to see what is in our basket! It's like getting a present every week!" He's right! Unpacking it is like unwrapping a surprise...and some of the items don't even make it to the fridge before they are gone. I also like the fact that we are at their mercy in terms of what we get. It has allowed me to experiment with new vegetables (bok choy and pineapple tomatillos, for instance) and seek out new recipes (sweet and spicy canned beets...yum!).
While $300 may seem like a lot, it really isn't. And we are pretty frugal people. We think of it as more than just a basket of vegetables. It's an investment in our community (they donate several shares each year to needy families and local food banks) and our planet (they use only earth-friendly organic farming practices). Yeah, yeah. I sound like a hippie. Put on some more patchouli and straighten your hemp skirt, Sarah. But the fact is, if more of us supported these types of organizations, we would come a long way towards improving the food we put into our bodies and the land around us. By reaching enough people, we can change our perception of what food should be. Alright, I'm getting off my soapbox. However, if you are going to take on a cause, this is a good one. Another bonus of having freshly picked produce is that it lasts a really long time. I've had farm share lettuce stay crisp in my fridge for a month. I am lucky if I make it a week before the bagged stuff from the grocery store turns to slime. In that way, we actually save money because we throw a lot less away.
Another way in which our farm share supports the community is to get people familiar with some of our other local farmers and business owners. So for the first two weeks of the season we receive a jar of local honey (which I put on/in everything to help with my allergies) and a large loaf of freshly baked bread from a local baker.
If you want to see what farm shares are all about, I found a great website below that introduces the concept of community farms while providing a way to locate farms in your area. Check it out! You won't regret it.