I first heard about CSAs (community supported agriculture programs) a few years ago while living in Fort Wayne. But for various reasons I was never able to join one. Either they were sold out, didn’t offer service where I lived, or I was too intimidated by cooking new vegetables.
Shortly after our recent move, I remembered CSAs once again and decided to see what was available here. I’ve been cooking a lot more now and trying new vegetables so I thought it would be the perfect time. I found a handy database of CSAs local to the Cleveland area in The Plain Dealer. For folks living elsewhere, see if your local newspaper has a listing, or visit Local Harvest or Eat Wild.
If you are new to CSAs, basically you pre-pay for local fruit, vegetables and sometimes homemade goods. Then at a designated time and location you pick up your “share” of the crop. This way you enjoy the most fresh, local produce available — and support local farmers and the local economy at the same time. Most summer CSAs run from about May through October. Winter CSAs might be available, or holiday shares like the one I found.
I decided to try City Fresh, which was offering a November and December holiday share. Perfect! Each share costs $28 and can be picked up in person at either an east side or west side location. Our first share was ready Tuesday night. There was so much produce I could not even take photos of it all. Here’s a glimpse at what we received.
1 Acorn Squash
1 Apple Butter, Pint
1 Beets, Bunch
1 Broccoli, Head
1 Brussel Sprouts, 1 Lb
1 Buttercup Squash
1 Carrots, Bunch
1 Pie Pumpkin
1 Radishes, Bunch
1 Sweet Potatoes, 2 Lbs
1 Swiss Chard
1 Turnips, Bunch
I’m more than eager to try cooking with all of these veggies! However, nearly half of this produce is new to me. I’ve never purchased or prepared beets, swiss chard, brussel sprouts, turnips or cabbage. I was able to find guides online telling me how to store each item and how long they should last. We are going to try to eat everything in a reverse order so none of the food spoils.
Do you have advice on how to prepare and cook these “new to me” veggies?