15 Sep 2014
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Down to Earth: Are Your Kids Ready for a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to expand your kids love, or at least tolerance, of vegetables.

Down to Earth: Are Your Kids Ready for a CSA?

I’ll admit it, my kids do pretty well in the vegetable department. My daughter asks for broccoli and my son loves green beens. That being said, the mere thought of carrots makes that same son gag, and I think I have the only child in the world who turns her nose up at sweet potatoes!

So, in an effort to introduce my kids to new vegetables and take my new-found cooking skills to the next level (albeit a low level), I decided to try out a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share last summer.

CSAs are an amazing concept where a group of individuals support a local farm by buying into a “share” of the crops before the season begins, giving the farm much needed cash to seed their crops. Many CSAs offer half shares, plant your own shares and work shares. There are also winter shares at some farms and I am currently looking into a  

Knowing last summer's CSA venture would be a true experiment with my kids, I asked a neighbor to split the share with me. I had heard the shares can be quite large. Every Wednesday afternoon (pick up days vary from farm to farm) we headed over to our local farm with reusable bags for the pickup. The farm displays the vegetables (and sometimes flowers and fruit) in bins and posts a list of how much of each item you can take. Our farm even offered an egg share and a wine share from a local winery.

My kids took their reusable bags and went from bin to bin taking the share of each vegetable as noted on the black board. They asked so many questions about the vegetables (why was there still dirt on some of them, why did they look different from the vegetables in the supermarket, why they had leaves still on them, etc.) that the mere act of picking up the food was a learning experience. By the time we got home with our loot, they were eager to help wash it all and start dinner with one of our share items.

Family favorites from our CSA share include basil, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon and summer squash. My favorite treat is cooked beets with goat cheese, and roasting all the amazing vegetables at 450 degrees with a little kosher salt and olive oil. It is so easy, and amazingly delicious.

Each week I got an e-mail from the CSA farm with a list of what to expect at pick up, crop updates, recipes and thoughts from the farmers. I would tell the kids what vegetables to expect at the pickup and they would actually get excited for pick up day. It felt super local and the food was top notch. My kids loved doing the pickups and sometimes grabbed for the vegetables before we even got home.

In my many trips to  here in Lexington, I saw that they are having Their share starts in early June and runs 20 weeks. What is nice about this CSA (aside from the farm's excellent reputation) is that they have two pickup days, and their hours run from noon to 7 p.m., allowing a little extra time after work to pick up the share. CSA members also get a 10 percent discount at the farm stand on pick up day.

also has a CSA, which it runs by giving members a coupon book, to redeem at the farm stand. Also, members can pick from the fields certain designated vegetables to buy at a reduced price .

My CSA experience was fun and very educational. My kids and I learned a lot about vegetables we don’t typically reach for, and I learned that kids do much better trying new foods if they are involved in the process. If nothing else, it showed them that food comes from the earth – not plastic packaging in a super market.

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