CSA by Mary Jo Hudson, Regular Contributor

I wanted to take a short cut.  It would be easy, I thought.  I would just skim the file folder and pick what I needed and copy and paste.  
The problem is I have no idea what I named the article I was searching to find.  I opened a few with promising titles only to be disappointed that it wasn’t the item I needed to ‘cheat’ a little.
Just that morning, I found another somewhat surprising letter in my inbox.  One more seed company no longer selling seeds.  Because the COVID 19 pandemic has set in motion a panic.  People are concerned about getting food, once finding shelves virtually empty of bread, water, and miscellaneous canned goods.  Many seed companies have depleted their supply of seeds.
If you are one who has a garden plot, or the intention of creating one this year, good for you.  If you cannot find seeds or the season escapes before you get that done and you would like fresh vegetables, I recommend you investigate Consumer Supported Agriculture.  
There are several CSA’s in the area.  Each one functions differently, so it is wise to investigate how they operate.  The essence is, one buys a ‘share’ for a set amount of money which entitles him to a share of the crop and the risk the farmer takes, too.  One CSA I know has different size shares:  a small would feed one or two people; a medium would feed up to 4 and a large, more.  The cost of the share is then commensurate with the quantity of food one receives.  
Some have weekly pick-ups at the farm; others have drop points that may be more convenient.  Many use organic methods.  Some encourage visits to the growing sites and relationship development between the farmer and consumer.  Some like feedback on what to grow.  Many have crops new to the consumer with instructions on how to incorporate them into the weekly menu.
With the delayed start to the Farmer’s Market, this might be an enticing option.  Certainly, for those who don’t have space for a garden; time to devote to it; or lack of desire, a CSA is a great way to procure locally grown, delicious fresh fruits and vegetables.  If you have children who are interested in the how and why of foods (or if you want to expose them to such a thing), a CSA with farm visiting privileges would be ideal.
Here’s a source (old though it is) for some options across the state.  Please check with each one to be certain they still are in operation; what their protocol is; if they have space for new members; and the cost. https://practicalfarmers.org/2016/03/looking-for-a-csa-near-you/
While I am generally familiar with several, I will recommend Heirloom farms from Earlham.  They offer multiple sizes of baskets to best fit the needs of a family.  In addition, one can buy fresh eggs, butchered chickens from them.  I’ll let you investigate how that works by visiting their site.  They also have special Facebook group for members to keep them abreast of what is happening on the farm regularly.  There is a weekly newsletter.  In past years, there have been events on the farm.  They have goats, sheep, gardens, berries, chickens.  They have welcomed family visits in the past.  The current situation with the pandemic may alter any and all of these factors, so please investigate directly with the CSA.
If you have your own garden or want to, there is a demonstration garden in Urbandale planted and maintained by the Master Gardeners.  Located at 3305 92 Street, it’s on the south side of Walker Johnson Park.  Check out google maps for directions on how to find the hidden treasure.
There are flowers as well as vegetable gardens and orchards.  Often volunteers will be found working any of these beds.  They have in past summers had one night a week of instruction on specific topics.  Check out their face book page to get more information.  One can always visit the garden to see what is happening and the volunteers are wonderful at answering questions.
I see this as a new opportunity for many to develop a hobby that benefits the family.  Seize the day.  Build a garden or buy into one.  Let’s expand our vista because we are forced to do it and be blessed with the opportunity to learn new things and experience new adventures.

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