First Community Supported Agriculture Delivery (CSA)! Woo hoo!

So, I have been wanting to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share for the past few years but could not get my head wrapped around the concept and how to do it. My dear canning friend has been doing it for years and raved about it. (We have canned together the past two years.  Our first year was tomatoes and once we managed to survive a year on canned tomatoes without giving ourselves and family botulism. So we did tomatoes again this next year and got really wild: we canned applesauce too.  Gotta live life on the wild side, I say). Anyway, I digress. Back to CSA.

I researched it over the winter and found a farm in Maryland that was offering shares. I signed up figuring my own home harvest could use a boost. Of course that was before we got the Community Garden plot a few weeks back but now I figure that between my home, CSA and community garden plot vegetables, I will be the canning and freezing maven of Takoma Park, not to mention the creative cooking queen trying out innovative recipes to use whatever nature deems we are worthy of harvesting from my home and community garden plots/getting from the CSA that week.

What you ask is Community Supported Agriculture?   It is a way for us to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer in our area.  In short, the farmer offers “shares” to the community. The share is usually a box of vegetables and you pay a seasonal fee for the share and delivery. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share and in return receive a box of produce each week throughout the farming season.

Today my first CSA share arrived. I had totally forgot it was coming. So much going on in my peace work and peas work, I am just resorting to taking things as they come and doing the best I can. Anyway, Patrick and Calvin had left the house to walk Calvin’s friend Lila back to her house after an afternoon and dinner playdate (and leaving me with playdate fallout: a house that now looks like a small army of children have laid waste to it). So when I heard a knock on the door, in my most frumpy men’s boxer shorts and way past its prime tank top self, I opened the door thinking it was my family. Instead, it was the CSA farmer. He caught me off guard and I was less than articulate in my conversation with him. So in addition to him probably thinking I have zero fashion sense, he probably thinks I am a woman of few words.

The farmer and I chatted as he glanced but did not comment on all my seedlings on the porch. He left and I eagerly looked at this week’s CSA bounty. It then became clear why my whimpy little seedlings did not so much as prompt a verbal comment from him. He delivered life size produce to me!  How did he do that??!!!  He lives in Maryland too. He had to have suffered from the very wet and cold Spring. But he delivered real life size vegetables. For a minute I got suspicious and wondered if he stopped at Whole Foods before he came by my house. Of course I quickly realized that was crazy talk and just my gardener envy that was coming out.

So, my first CSA bounty includes eggs, beets, leeks, asparagus, green onions and lettuce. Let the cooking begin!


Community Garden Kick Off!

Today was the community garden plot kick off!   Well, it got off to a slow start. Three of us plotters ended up having our plots moved.  (Going with the “plotter” title as it sounds kinda snappy, or maybe “planting plotters”, as community gardeners sounds a bit too formal for my tastes.)  Apparently, the county ended up thinking our original plots were a bit too small due to cut off edges caused by a fence line.  So, they moved them to where the wood chips were to go and put the wood chips somewhere else.  Well,  to my extreme joy, my new plot is a nice 10 x 20 rectangle the is right up against a straight fence.  Not only that (yeah, it gets better!), it is perfectly angled for lots of sun (to the joy not only of me but certainly my soon to be planted tomatoes, peppers and eggplants given they are heat and sun lovers).

Well, my joy was temporarily tempered when I arrived today to discover that when the wood chips were moved and my new plot was created, the county left the plot untouched as they had already tilled all the other spots before they decided to move the three plots.   So the three moved plots, including mine, were hard packed compared to all the other plots that had light fluffy tops.

When I arrived today, the plotter next to me looked like she was going to pass out.  She was also a tad bit exasperated.  Why I thought?  Then I looked down at her plot. Clay. Lots of clay. Hard big lumps of clay. She said she was on day three and still working to get the soil properly worked up.  She was doing it by hand with a fork and she was also finding trash and big rocks along the way as she dug up the clay. She wryly suggested that we set up a potting wheel and start throwing clay.

But as I mentioned, my joy was only temporarily tempered.  Say, maybe tempered for five or so minutes. Because then I got very excited. I decided that this was the true deal.  Not only was I getting a new community garden plot, I was getting one that had yet to be worked at all.  I would look at it as an adventure, like a pioneer coming to raw land and working it until it produced food for the table. So I decided I was in fact lucky that the country forgot to fix my plot. I would fix it myself. I would have this great life experience. A true urban gardener with a pioneer experience. Well, I would as soon as I figured out what tools to use and how to do it. I also decided a team would be more productive as I did not have three days like my neighbor plotter to dig up my plot. So after a trip to the hardware and garden store, my reinforcements arrived (Patrick and Calvin).  With our newly acquired shovel, fork and cultivator, we went to work.  Calvin had a child size hoe and child size garden gloves.  We worked it until it got dark.

Community Garden Plot: End of Day 1

So tomorrow we will give it a few more hours of digging and then can add some compost and other organic material.  Calvin and I have been discussing how to organize the plot.  I am partial to trying out a square foot garden plan.  Calvin wants rows.  So we will sort it out tomorrow and I hope that we will get some things planted.  Woo hoo!