Community Supported Agriculture
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is a concept that has evolved over the past few decades, but which at heart represents a closer relationship between the farmer and the consumer. In a traditional CSA relationship, the consumer purchases a "share" of the farm's harvest at the beginning of the season, and the farmer commits to growing, harvesting and providing a weekly amount of produce. In this way the CSA member is guaranteed fresh produce at the peak of its seasonal freshness, and the farmer gets the benefit of financial support early in the season before there are crops ready for sale. The CSA member agrees to share some of the risks of agriculture - the vagaries of weather, for example - and usually receives a higher value for her produce dollar.
I love growing for a CSA because of the complexity and variety involved - I grow over 150 varieties of plants from seed. I also enjoy sharing the experience of seasonal eating with my customers - when you participate in my CSA, you are eating the very best of what I can produce picked at its peak of freshness and nutritional density. You are eating what my family eats, and I always share my recipes!
Growing in Alaska has its challenges, and our season is not only short but lacks a springtime transition period - we go from ground that is frozen solid in mid-April to putting in our first seeds and transplants as soon as the soil drains enough to be worked in early May. The good news is that produce grows exuberantly fast under our Alaskan midnight sun! Seasonal eating is new to most of us, but there's nothing as exciting as the first fresh salad of the summer, or that vine-ripened tomato you waited until August to enjoy.