Green thumbs and subscription farmers (anytime)

April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day! M.’s school is taking to the streets this morning for its annual Teaching Peace Parade through Soulard — if you see us, be sure to honk and wave! After school we’ll be doing a little gardening, planting a few more seeds and admiring our nice, tall peas and the tiny little onions and potatoes that are just poking up.

It’s easy to be an enthusiastic gardener this time of year, but it’s also easy to slack off once the weather gets warm! Thus my topic for today is to introduce a Community Supported Agriculture venture that I really like: Backdoor Harvest.  Unlike traditional CSAs, where you receive a box of food every so often from a farm that you may or may not choose to visit, this produce is grown in your own yard. Well, some of it, anyway. Your own yields are supplemented from other yards as well as farms — or, if your plants are going great guns, your excess can go to others.  The company will help you set up, and once the plants are in the ground they’ll stop by each week to maintain the garden.  (You’re free to help them, of course.)  This seems like a great concept for families — kids get to see what’s growing and to help with it, but if you don’t get the weeding done it’s not the end of the world.

Another oft-cited drawback to traditional CSAs is the seasonality of the produce.  It’s sort of obvious — if you’re getting local produce, you’re getting what’s in season locally, even if it’s only greens!  Fair Shares, which started last year, solves this by offering assorted other local products, from chocolate to meat, in its baskets and rotating who gets what. Word is that there’s a waiting list, but it’s worth getting on it.

When you’re checking out a CSA — and sadly, there are only a couple others in the St. Louis area this year — be sure to note whether they have a delivery point near you or not.  If you’re driving an hour each way to pick up the food, it may not be worth joining that particular CSA. A case in point is Three Rivers Community Farm, which is having its members drive to Elsah, Ill., for pickup this year.  One of the longest-running CSAs, and one which still offers St. Louis delivery points, is Biver Farms in Edwardsville.  To get info, call Keith at 618.656.9082.

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