Are your constantly looking to get fresh, high-quality food? Do you crave a personal connection with the farmer who lovingly and carefully grew that …
Are your constantly looking to get fresh, high-quality food? Do you crave a personal connection with the farmer who lovingly and carefully grew that produce? When supplying your household with groceries, do you seek ways to support the local economy and your community?
Community-supported agriculture, or CSA, may be an option worth trying this season.
A CSA connects the consumer directly to the producer by offering a subscription to a local farm’s seasonal bounty. CSA members pay for a portion of a farmer’s harvest up front and in return receive a weekly or bi-weekly box of assorted produce throughout the season.
Early this month, the Eat Local First Collaborative launched a new tool to assist consumers in locating Washington state farms that offer CSA shares. The CSA Finder, added as a feature to their website, gives users the ability to learn more about the farms and CSA programs in their area. By discovering these local connections, consumers can make an informed decision on whether or not a CSA is for them.
Using this CSA Finder reveals the handful of farms in Jefferson County offering CSA subscriptions this season. One of which is Hopscotch Farm and Cannery in Port Townsend. Hopscotch Farm, described as “a ‘Farm to Jar’ operation,” has been growing heirloom produce and crafting pickles, relish, and preserves for their CSA and for farmers markets in the area since 2017.
A farm that operates on a micro-farm scale, Hopscotch prides its organic and sustainable production methods, all hand-tended by owner and solo-farmer Meghan Mix.
A regular at the Saturday Farmers Market from April to December, Mix wanted a little bit more direct interaction with people than the hustle and bustle of the farmer’s market would allow.
“That’s why I did the CSA,” she explained, “because I have the same people who are picking up their boxes every single week and we have a little bit more time to chat.”
“It’s just a little bit more relaxed than sales are at the farmers market,” she said.
Farms and their CSAs operate differently. At Hopscotch Farm, the customers pay a lump sum up front, so all the weekly deliveries from June through October are paid for at one time.
Vegetables like greens, peas, beets, carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes are just some of the produce that occupy the CSA boxes coming from Hopscotch Farm. Each box includes five to six different produce items with intentionally smaller shares so perishables don’t go to waste within the week. Salad greens and fresh herbs typically accompany the veggies.
Shares include one jar of farmstead pickles, relish, or preserves or seasoning salt each week with various optional add-ons offered.
“I give my CSA members the top produce I have available every week. They’re getting the best of the best selections,” Mix explained. “I also send out a weekly newsletter that talks about what’s going on on the farm and I really try to give people an understanding of what it takes to produce the food that they’re seeing in their box.”
There is a comfort in knowing who handles your food — especially during a pandemic.
“My farm is mostly just me … the produce wasn’t being handled or touched by a lot of different people. I was really upfront about my practices and my sanitation protocols,” Meghan recalled running her CSA at the height of COVID this time last year.
“It was a no-contact pickup outside. They didn’t have to go into a grocery store and spend time collecting their produce,” she said. “Their boxes were all ready to go and they could just come and grab them.”
Aside from a safe alternative to grocery stores, there are an abundance of benefits to being a part of a CSA, Mix noted. Community-supported agriculture connects you to a local producer. You are getting fresh, healthy, high-quality food grown locally and with love, all the while supporting small-scale producers.
“Some of my customers have been with me since the very beginning,” Meghan said.
“A CSA is a really fun way to explore the seasonality of the local foods that we produce here. It’s really for people who are excited about trying new things, are excited about being adventurous in the kitchen and really seeing what the Olympic Peninsula has to offer,” she added.
Hopscotch Farm still has space available in her CSA. Those who sign up by March 1 will get an early bird discount offered on the regular share of seasonal produce.
To locate more community-supported agriculture in the area, visit eatlocalfirst.org/csa.