Look, CSAs aren't for everyone, even die-hard locavores. Some people just want more control over the food they buy. Other people enjoy their regular visits to their farmers market and wouldn't want to give that up. For others, though, the idea of having someone else pack up a box of supremely fresh produce for them is sheer heaven. Below are some things to keep in mind when you join a CSA.
1. Sign Up Early
Some programs sell out by March, or even a year ahead for popular programs in high-demand areas. This all really depends on where you are, though, since in areas with a greater number of CSA options also tend to have more devleoped systems, with some farms offering quarterly memberships or even by-the-week options.
2. Double-Check the Pick-Up Situation
Make sure the pick-up time and place are convenient, or at least do-able, every week for the season. You'll need to respect the time, so if you're not sure you can make it to the pick-up spot within the allotted time, you might want to reconsider or find a different CSA with a more convenient drop-spot. There are some CSAs that deliver directly to homes, and more and more workplaces are becoming CSA drop-spots for their employees. Maybe you could coordinate one for your office?
3. Quantity Can Vary
Quantity varies depending the harvest. Don't freak out when that first share in the spring isn't as bountiful as you may have hoped – amounts in most programs grow throughout the summer.
4. Prepare for Dirt
CSA produce tends to come straight from the field. Fields are, as you may already know, made out of dirt. Some of that dirt tends to get on the produce – especially those vegetables grown in the ground like potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips. Even above-ground crops can show up dirty, though, since wind and rain can blow and splash dirt onto lettuce leaves and tomatoes. It's no big deal, but if you'r used to produce that has been rinsed or pre-cut or anything else, it will be a bit of an adjustment.
5. Augment as Needed
Some people manage to use their CSA share and just their CSA share for their produce needs, but those people are rare. Depending on where you live and what the farm grows, you may need to buy additional items like garlic or, in many areas, fruit.