image via DumboNYC Flickr
There are a lot of reasons why I look forward to summer in New York City: lazy Saturdays at the beach, free concerts in Prospect Park, more ice cream trucks than I can handle, and, most importantly, the return of our farm share. For the last two (going on three) summers, we’ve participated in our neighborhood CSA (community supported agriculture), the Crown Heights Farm Share. Farm Shares (or CSAs, the terms are interchangeable) work like this: at the beginning of the season, we pay a lump sum to received produce fresh from a local farmer every week, and we pick up our share once a week at a designated pick-up spot in the neighborhood. We also have to volunteer for a minimum of four hours as part of our share. It’s a fabulous way to support your local farmers, try new vegetables, and get more involved with your community.
The Crown Heights CSA gets vegetables from Sang Lee Farms on the North Fork of Long Island. The CSA actually runs year round, but we only participate in the summer because that’s the only time a partial share is available. A full share provides enough vegetables for a family of four, while a partial share is enough to feed two (sometimes even the partial is a lot for the two of us). Our summer share runs for 23 weeks, and the cost works out to about $17 a week, which is quite a bargain when you compare it to prices at the city farmer’s markets. If there are any vegetables leftover at the end of the week’s distribution, the food goes to Georgia’s Place, which provides permanent housing for mentally ill, formerly homeless adults. Georgia’s Place is also where our weekly pick-up happens, and last year, the CSA members built and planted a rooftop farm on top of the building! Throughout the year, we are able to work on the rooftop garden as part of our volunteer requirement.
Georgia’s Place rooftop farm, photos via Seeds to Feed
If you live in Crown Heights (or even if you don’t), you should consider joining the Farm Share. For us, it’s been a really great way to try new vegetables that we never would have picked up at the market. Garlic scapes? I didn’t even know what they were, but now I know I love the little curly green things. Bok choy? Never would have thought about it, but now it’s a delicious and versatile staple in our summer diet. Plus, the Crown Heights Farm Share offers additional shares like fruit and cheese. And on top of that, they partner with Lewis Waite Farms to offer meat. This is particularly awesome because you can order it as you want it and pick what you want.