Quantity and variety within a CSA season or market season, not to mention freshness and general quality, are key selling points for farmers. So how do we ensure the reality of all that beautiful produce is rewarding and enjoyable for CSA members and market shoppers and doesn’t turn into a burden they feel guilty about wasting?
Ten years ago, I had this very conversation with long-time CSA Farmer Shari Raider of Sauvie Island Organics, who had been farming for 15 years at that point near Portland, Oregon. Shari shared her frustration with lagging renewal rates and pinned it in part on people loving the idea of CSA—local, delicious, community-building, environmentally friendly—but struggling with the reality of it. The jokes about calling your fridge’s vegetable bin the “rotter” not the “crisper” and the handwringing over all the early season greens and alliums and what to do with them, and the fact that tomatoes often don’t ripen here until mid-July or later, were getting old.