Environmentalists and nutritionists agree; the fewer miles our food travels, the better it is for our bodies and our planet. But for those of us lacking the time, energy, know-how or interest in backyard gardening, a community supported agriculture (CSA) membership can be the ideal way to gain all the benefits of local food minus the dirt and sweat.
The concept of a CSA is simple: you purchase shares of a farm’s yield before harvest begins. In return, you receive a mixed box of seasonal produce, typically weekly, throughout the farming season. Pickup may be at the farm or at a central drop spot closer to you.
Besides having the benefit of access to super fresh farm picks, CSAs help local farmers by guaranteeing them sales of their crop even before it starts poking out of the soil.
At each of these farms, harvest typically begins mid to late October, but NOW is the time to sign up and reserve your share.
At present, Orlando’s CSA offering is small, but that would change if more local families get involved. Maybe this is your year to join a CSA.
Maya Papaya Organic Farm
Maya Fiallos’s CSA at her 5-acre Oviedo farm gives dozens of families access to her veggies and herbs. “We are planting now and will start picking mid October, if all goes well,” she says. “Joining our Facebook page is a great way to stay updated on the harvest”. CSA members have the choice of picking up directly from the farm or from CrossFit Lake Mary, located at 111 Commerce St., Lake Mary.
When: Harvest will be for 10 weeks starting mid to late October
What: green beans, cabbage, carrots, kale, cherry tomatoes, yellow squash and more
Cost: Half share (usually around 5 pounds) is $200 / $20 per week. A full share (usually around 10 pounds) is $350 / $35 per week.
More information: 786-402-1125 or [email protected]
Saint Cloud, FL
When Nancy Pratt first began Osceola CSA, it was a traditional CSA with both working and non-working shares. Recently, Pratt has moved to a ‘rent-a-row’ model where members each get a 4×80-foot row, already irrigated, filled with nutrient-rich soil and ready for planting. “My interest isn’t in providing food but teaching people how to grow their own,” says Pratt, who has a total of 45 rows available to rent. Members will do their own planting but gain the benefit of guidance from onsite farmers, a dedicated gardening mentor, plus access to tools. “You can start planting as of September 1 and we’ll start seeing produce by mid to late October.”
When: October-February and March-June
What: herbs, strawberries, cabbages, Brussels spouts and more.
Cost: $100 for a row. They provide hoes, weed buckets and hand holding.
More information: 407-744-7282
More CSAs to explore…
Long & Scott Farms
Mount Dora, FL
Shaolin Gardens CSA
Family Ties Farm
Winter Haven, FL