Friday, July 25, 2008

Farm Co-Op

Great googly moogly, another question!!
ok so i found your blog through blogher and love it! Sorry i dont have a zucchini recipe. but i have a question how did you get your farm co-op started? I am trying to find one in my area and dont know how to start. Thanks
Julia
I love questions!! I'm so glad you're here Julia!

You don't say where you are, but I would start with Local Harvest. They have a very comprehensive list of farmers who sell to the public, and you can search by zip code. Also check Pick Your Own.

I found out about our farm co-op through good old fashioned networking. My friend Jenny joined last year. By the time I found out about it, we were too far into the season for me to buy in, so I joined this year.

The way mine works is two women who wanted to be farmers bought a farm south of town, and they sell "shares." $500 will get you produce every week for the entire summer, and it's all organic, local, in season, and amazing. I opted to split a share with someone, so I only paid $250 for the summer. Next year I'll probably opt for the whole share, but I didn't want to commit to too much (and to be honest, I'm having a hard time working the weirder stuff like Kale and Chard into our diets - most of that is going into the garbage. Recipes??).

If you have a Farmer's Market in your area, I would go there and start asking questions. If the people selling produce there don't co-op, they may know of someone who does. Also, you might try your local Extension Office and see if they know of anyone.

We also buy a 1/4 beef every winter from BJ's uncle, who farms about a half hour south of here. Instead of being raised in a factory and pumped full of drugs and antibiotics and hormones, our beef is raised in a pasture, eating grass and soaking up sunshine like God intended. It is the best beef on the planet, and if you can afford it (and have a big freezer) I can't recommend it highly enough! 1/4 of a beef is more than enough for our family for the year, and it costs around $350-$400. A lot of the cost depends on the butcher who cuts it up and packages it. I think his fee accounts for about half the price. It's still far, far cheaper and healthier than the meat at the grocery store, even when the grocery store has a sale.

If you happen to be local to me, I would be happy to put you in touch with the women who run my co-op, or with BJ's uncle.

Local food is so much better for you. A zucchini that came from your county is going to have more flavor and more nutrition than one that came from hundreds of miles away - they lose nutrients as they age, and once they're picked, it's a race to get them to you. Also, many produce items that have to be trucked in have to be picked early, so they don't fully ripen. How many times have you seen a display of green bananas at the grocery, for instance?

Local food is also better for the environment, because the food doesn't have to be trucked in from wherever - saving gas, reducing pollution, etc.

Local Food, it's What's For Dinner!

Now who's going to help me with all this zucchini bread??

1 comment:

Shannyn said...

Just thought I'd mention another term to refer to when picking the local farmer to buy shares from, is to ask about CSA's or community suporter agriculture in the area.
As far as recipes for the chard and kale, I would ask your co-op for recipes. They are bound to know about some, and if they ask the folks that use the shares, they probably have a few that they can track down for you.
There are lots of nice cooked greens recipes online. I like the Whole Foods recipes that are on their website http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/index.html, they have a lot of recipes with unusal ingredients, and you can search the recipes for a specific ingredient. Other good sites are www.alive.com (slow food practices here) and www.mothering.com (the recipe section here is called Peggy's Kitchen). I hope these can provide some recipes you can at least try!
You can also add either chard or kale to recipes you already like. We like to add the chard or kale to soups. This way, if for some reason you have an uber spicy green, like spicy mustard, you can try it in a soup recipe. If you don't like it in there, just scoop it out and the soup is still great. If you're brave, you can saute some with olive oil, some spices, crispy cooked bacon (or your favorite substitue), and crushed or minced garlic. We love dinosaur kale this way, but you really get the flavor of the greens, and some folks think it's just too green tasting!
You may want to consider donating the produce you're not eating to a soup kitchen or shelter, they would probably be happy to get fresh produce.
I'm so happy you're enjoying the local foods! Pretty cool stuff! Oh yeah, check out the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's all about being a locavore =)
They have a website as well with recipes for things like zucchini chocolate chip cookies, and zucchini orzo. Lots of good ways to eat your veggies! www.animalvegetablemiracle.com
Cheers!