Colvin Family Farms – Hooray for CSAs!

Week 2 CSA Vegetables

First of all, I’m going to throw a little basic knowledge your way just in case you have no idea what a CSA is. A CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A community of shareholders agree to pay for a share of a local farm’s produce. The money paid upfront allows the farm to better plan their crops and allows them to invest in their farm before the growing season begins. We – the community of consumers agree to share the risks and benefits with that farm.

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My husband and I have been trying to eat locally for the last ten years. It was quite challenging at first, but Knoxville has tons of options to do that now. We’ve got wonderful stores like justripe. We have a farmer’s market almost every day (my personal favorite is the Market Square Farmers Market). Restaurants are serving meals using lots of local produce. We even have food trucks serving food made with local ingredients. And lots of farms are now offering CSAs. Last year I participated in Colvin Family Farm’s CSA. We’re a family of two. We are not vegetarians. I grow a fairly large garden. So of course we made the brilliant decision to get a full share.

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And you know what? It was brilliant. We got a great deal. We had an amazing selection of produce to use that was so tasty. We were able to keep our money in our local community. We were able to support something my husband and I fervently believe in. We were able to make a political decision – every bit of money we spend on local foods and small producers keeps money out of the hands of companies that use chemicals indiscriminately, spend millions of dollars to get fat farm subsidies in their hands, and who spend untold amounts of money to keep people from learning what foods contain genetically modified ingredients or hormones that they might not want to ingest.

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I was shocked by how much produce we received each week. I wasn’t shocked by how good it is. I’ve always known that produce straight from the farm and/or garden is always a lot tastier and usually higher in nutrients. And I will argue to the day I die that organically grown produce just tastes better than conventionally grown produce.

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I was amazed at how adept I became with using all the produce up. I would say that altogether, we used about 90% of the produce we received. When we didn’t use produce, it was usually because our week was unduly hectic or the box contained an item we both dislike, and we weren’t able to find someone to give it to. In a nation that wastes approximately 40% of its food, I’m pretty impressed with what we were able to do.

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This year I’m a virtual farmhand for Colvin Family Farms! I’m going to be sharing my tips on how to store, plan and fully utilize the produce that we’ll get in our box each week. I’ll be sharing resources that have helped me. I’ll also be sharing recipes that will give you ideas on how to use the vegetables you get in each box. Cooking CSA style is not difficult but it does take a little getting used to. There are two other bloggers this year that will be joining me, and I’m excited to see the creative ideas and recipes they use as well. Betsy is blogging at Full Tummies and Lia is blogging at Thinklia.

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What am I bringing to the Virtual Farmhand table? I’ve been a food blogger for years. I know lots of food bloggers, and I know the ones who consistently post delicious recipes. I’ve been eating locally for years and know how to shop and plan a menu around the food you get. I’m an adventurous cook, but I also run my own business and do freelance writing. I don’t have endless hours to spend toiling away in the kitchen. I love trying new recipes and have had some amazing successes and some amazing failures. I will be very honest with you about how I do each week. I’m on a strict budget. I’m also adding the extra challenge of dealing with breast cancer this year to the mix.

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There are various ways to follow my blog.You can subscribe to it by email or RSS feed. You can like the Facebook page for my blog – I post links there whenever a new post goes live. You can follow me on twitter, either using my general feed or be searching for the hashtag #eatyourcsa.

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I post about a lot of different things here at Mouth From the South – I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and I often blog about that. I’m a cocktail aficionado. I post about my cats. I post pictures. I sometimes swear a lot. If you’re not interested in reading any of the above, you can just read my CSA posts and recipe posts using these links.

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I’m eagerly looking forward to the day we get our first box of produce. And if you haven’t signed up but would like to, here’s a link to join: Colvin Family Farm’s CSA

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Note: My husband and I paid for a CSA share last year with Colvin Family Farms. However, since I am blogging about their CSA this year, I am receiving a free share for helping out as a virtual farmhand. For the record, if this opportunity hadn’t come up, my husband and I were planning to purchase another share this year.

16 Comments on Colvin Family Farms – Hooray for CSAs!

  1. Darlynne
    April 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm (12 months ago)

    Kristina, I loved your CSA posts last year because I learned so much; not just about recipes, but how to use food and to plan. Really looking forward to what shows up on your doorstep.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm (12 months ago)

      Thank you! This year’s going to be a bit more a challenge, but I think I’m up to it. :)

      Reply
  2. Alicia (foodycat)
    April 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm (12 months ago)

    I’m looking for something similar in our area – unfortunately one of the larger organic box schemes has just been taken over by a very large company, pretty much completely defeating the purpose!

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:12 pm (12 months ago)

      That’s awful! Do you have a farmer’s market near you? If you do, ask around there. There may still be space left or some farms offer fall CSAs

      Reply
      • Alicia (foodycat)
        April 29, 2013 at 9:08 am (12 months ago)

        CSAs don’t seem to be as organised in the UK as they are in the US. There is a farmer’s market about 15 miles away, we’re planning to check it out soon, so I will ask then. Thanks for the suggestion!

        Reply
  3. Mellissa
    April 23, 2013 at 3:05 pm (12 months ago)

    Hey Kristina, wish I was close enough to join! But since I do have a garden I’ll hopefully have a decent amount of homegrown organic produce – so I’ll be looking forward to your ideas/recipes on how to use them up creatively! Sounds like a fun project!

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:20 pm (12 months ago)

      It’s actually breaking my heart that I’m going to have to cut back so much on the garden this year. Can I garden vicariously through you?

      Reply
  4. Marta Brysha
    April 23, 2013 at 9:10 pm (12 months ago)

    I live in the Central Highlands of Tasmania – we grow just about everything we need, but thankfully, for those few items we can’t grow there is a flourishing local food industry. Best of all is the boutique foods like home made sausages, salami and prosciutto (for my husband the carnivore), spectacular sheep and goat cheeses and yoghurts. I rarely buy fresh food form the supermarket, and when i am forced to it’s always a huge disappointment.

    It’s lovely to hear your enthusiasm for this project even in the midst of your current health troubles. Thinking of you. xx

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:23 pm (12 months ago)

      Marta – that sounds so wonderful. I joke that when we finally get around to renovating our kitchen in 20 years, I want two wine fridges. One for my cheeses that need to be cured. Another for sausage. :)

      Reply
  5. Nicole Walls
    April 24, 2013 at 6:40 pm (12 months ago)

    I traveled to your blog through your FFD post. I’m so happy to read about your ventures with such an awesome CSA because it also made me look into WHAT a CSA even was! Thanks to you, I have just joined a local farm here in FL, and I can’t wait until I place my first order. Thanks Kristina! :)

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm (12 months ago)

      Oh Nicole! That is so exciting! I hope you enjoy it as much as we have. The best CSA newbie tip I can give you is to remember you’ll need to plan your menu after you get your box. I pick ours up on Saturday and since I always can guess one or two things that will probably be in it, that Saturday’s dinner. Than I work on the rest of the week. And creativity is key. :)

      Reply
  6. Heidi
    April 26, 2013 at 11:45 am (12 months ago)

    This CSA is a great idea. Who knows if it exists also in other countries out of the US? I always would prefer my own garden if I have though..

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm (12 months ago)

      http://www.urgenci.net/page.php?niveau=2&id=CSA%20for%20Europe!

      I have no idea if that particular link is helpful, but there definitely are CSAs in other countries. I agree that I love stuff from my own garden. But quite a few of my friends live in apartments. I’m not going to be able to garden that much because I’ll be dealing with breast cancer this year. Being a member of a CSA lets me pay a local farmer for doing the work for me. I also get to support a cause I really believe in!

      Reply
      • Heidi
        April 27, 2013 at 3:18 am (12 months ago)

        Thanx Kristina for the link! So interesting.. And about the ‘year dealing’: you will do the right decision and get out of it perfectly! Hugs…

        Reply
  7. Laura
    April 28, 2013 at 1:13 am (12 months ago)

    I confess I have consistently chickened out of a CSA box for fear we are too picky (maybe moody is the better word? since we like most things, just not all things every day), so I will be watching this. We do support the farmers’ market; I will take local over any other choice (including organic–where I am sometimes that’s the choice) any day. I don’t can but I am a big freezer, especially blueberries and tomatoes. ANyway I am rambling, but what a cool project you’ll have going…

    Reply
  8. The Modern Gal
    May 19, 2013 at 9:33 am (11 months ago)

    We’re doing a Mountain Meadows CSA for the second time (we skipped last summer though, so I’m a bit out of practice.) I feel like we failed majorly in how we handled the first CSA, so we went ahead and split with another family. I have been corralling recipes that I know will help conquer the boxes, but I can definitely use whatever help I can get.

    Reply

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