The Jew And The Carrot

It's Time To Sign Up for Your CSA

By Anna Hanau

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Anna Hanau
Kohlrabi is often a new vegetable for CSA members

True, it’s just the end of January. But farmers are already planning their crops for 2012, and you want them to plan with you in mind!

If you’re already a member of a Community-Supported Agriculture project, you know that you have a special relationship with your personal vegetable grower. In exchange for a payment up front, now or sometime soon, your farmer will bring you all the bounty of the harvest, once a week throughout the entire growing season, starting June (in the Northeast, at least).

If you haven’t already joined a CSA, maybe you’ve heard a thing or two about them. For instance, your friends might have brought a kohlrabi salad to your potluck. It’s a two-for-one vegetable that grows well in colder weather, they tell you, perfect to get an early start on the season. You can eat the stems and the bulbous stalk that, once peeled, is sweet like broccoli. Who knew it was so easy to become an expert on season extension, local crops, and exotic brassicas?! But this is just one benefit of being part of a CSA. As one member from Ansche Chesed CSA in Manhattan explained, “Being part of a CSA means I eat a greater variety of vegetables, and I try to think about cooking with what’s fresh and available rather than choosing a recipe and then buying ingredients.”

Your friends might also have told you about picking up their vegetables once a week with their kids. A CSA member from Houston, TX told us, “I like that we are connected to the land and that my children learn where things come from, in many senses.” The weekly project of picking up fresh vegetables can be a fun counting game and an experience for sight, smell and taste for eaters of all ages.

In our pursuit to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, and a healthier and more sustainable world for everyone, Hazon’s interest in establishing CSAs is not only in supporting local organic farmers, but in giving the Jewish community a new outlet for gathering and education. Our network of Jewish CSAs in the US, Canada and Israel — 58 and counting — supports CSAs based at synagogues, day schools, JCCs and, in two cases, Jewish farms (read about them here and here. Hazon CSAs host cooking demos with Jewish chefs, community-garden projects and education programs that bring a Jewish perspective to contemporary food and agriculture issues. In some cases, Jewish CSAs are a radical experiment in community building. As a CSA member in Boulder, CO, explained “Coming to pick up our shares weekly brought us together from all the different congregations in the community: a good idea.” In other cases, it’s about redefining what it means to keep kosher, an ancient Jewish value. One member from Mt. Kisco really appreciates “having the discussion about eating healthy, fresh foods as an extension of the ideas around keeping kosher.”

You can see the list of Hazon CSA sites here. Don’t see one in your area? Get in touch about starting one, or search on Local Harvest to find a CSA farm in your area. Get through winter knowing that somewhere in a cozy little greenhouse, the seeds of your summer salads are already growing — and they have your name on them!

Anna Hanau is the Associate Director of Programs at Hazon, and co-authored “Food for Thought, Hazon’s Sourcebook on Jews, Food and Contemporary Life.” She and her husband founded a kosher pastured meat business called Grow and Behold Foods, and keep a flock of chickens in her backyard in Brooklyn.


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