Signing up for Your First CSA

Signing up for your first csa

There are a lot of CSAs to choose from each year in Maryland.  You have single farm CSAs, and those that partner with other farms.  You can find all kinds of meat options, veggie-only, or mixed CSAs. 

Some CSAs deliver to your location, but most have set pick up points.  You’ll see CSAs that offer a set box of food, or programs that let you choose what you want based on a point system.  There is something for everyone, and signing up for your first CSA is easy!

Here at the Baltimore Foodshed, my goal is to make it easier to find the CSAs that deliver near you.  Right now, that means using the CSA Foodshed map and finding the closest farms, then looking on their website to see where they deliver. 

However, there are CSAs that look farther away yet deliver near you.  Ultimately, I’d like to offer a map that shows pickup and deliver points for all the CSAs.  However, that’s contingent on the farms publishing that data or letting me know directly.  If you are a farm, and you want your pickup options on the map, please let me know!

Once you’ve looked through your options, you can choose your first CSA to join. If you are signing up for your first CSA, you might not know what to expect. Here are some tips for how to maximize your CSA experience! Now is a great time to start looking into joining a CSA.

Visit the Farm

If you can visit the farm, do it!  You will learn more about your farmer and their farm.  Joining a CSA makes you a part of their farm that year, and it’s nice to see where your food is coming from. Plus, you’ll have more of a link to where your food comes from.

Plan it Out

Find out what foods you might be getting each week. Plan to set aside some time for your food once your food arrives.  Have some potential recipes and ideas ready. 

Ask your farmer or others in the CSA if they have any advice for new ways to enjoy your food. Use this to make up a potential meal plan for the week.

Learn how best to store your food. Clean out your fridge each week before your box arrives. Consider how you might preserve some of the bounty for later. 

If you get to pick what you get, try something new. Finally, plan an easy meal for the night you get your box so you have time to prep what you get.  A salad would be ideal!

Prep your Food

Prep your food as soon as you get it. Clean it, store it, chop it up.  That way it won’t languish in the fridge, and you can make sure you use the most perishable as soon as possible.

You don’t want to waste any of your fresh food! Finalize your weekly meal plan once you know what you have.  That way you’ll ensure you enjoy it all.

Eat Root to Stem

Find ways to use all of your fresh food. Green smoothies can be a great way to incorporate extra greens from produce. You can also wilt greens for cooking later if you know you won’t be able to eat them sooner.

Enjoy raw produce as much as possible. It cuts down on prep time, and you won’t lose as many nutrients.  Add greens to omelettes. If fruit is getting old, cut out the good parts and cook it with some sugar on the stove. Use it as a fruit spread for ice cream, pancakes, or yogurt.

Don’t throw out inedible parts!  Use them to make homemade broth.  You can make some incredible veggie broth.  Chicken or other meat based broths ensure you enjoy the goodness of the bones and fat as well.  Once you’ve used up everything, compost what is left!

Seasonal Recipe Sites

40 Simple and Delicious CSA Recipes has recipes from other sites linked here. This site is great for CSA farmers.

Adventure Kitchen Recipes has loads of seasonal recipes. You can break them down by season or just look for plant based options.

Cookie and Kate Recipes are all vegetarian. I’ve made quite a few of her recipes, and all turned out fabulous. She really knows how to make vegetables taste great! She categorizes by seasons as well.

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