Springtime in Louisville is nearly here, and we can’t wait for the growing season that comes along with it. While planting a vegetable garden, filled with delicious greens, carrots, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and more, is a reality for some, homegrown produce from the backyard just isn’t possible for everyone. So how do the time-crunched, space-limited or just hopeless gardeners among us manage to keep just-picked produce on hand all season long? By signing up for a weekly CSA share!
Not familiar with CSAs? CSA stands for “community supported agriculture,” a system that brings farmers and community members directly together. Community members buy a “share” in a farm, and through this investment, receive a weekly share of the harvest throughout the season, nurtured and grown by a farmer in the community. Becoming a member of a CSA means access to the freshest local produce available and a deeper connection to the farm, its farmers and the food they work so hard to provide.
To help understand more about the benefits of joining a CSA, we talked to Ivor Chodkowski from Field Day Family Farm, an urban farm that practices community supported agriculture right here in Louisville. Here are our favorite reasons to sign up for a CSA, along with Ivor’s perspective as a longtime CSA farmer. We’re sure you’ll be ready to sign up for a Field Day Family Farm CSA as soon as you hear them all!
5 Best Reasons to Sign Up For a CSA
1. You’ll get access to the best local produce.
This is definitely the biggest reason why most people sign up for a CSA. You can’t get more farm-to-table fresh! Your CSA box is most likely harvested just before pickup by the folks who hand you your box. That means your greens will stay fresh longer, and your tomatoes TASTE like tomatoes because they’ve been picked ripe and are ready for you to take home and savor, all within a few hours. CSA members really get the best that a farm has to offer, all season long.
The CSA model also makes it easier for farmers to grow sustainably. As Ivor explains, “Buying a CSA share helps farmers plan and invest appropriately, and this commitment makes a huge impact. The link between a farmer and a CSA member encourages sustainable farming practices. The engaged, educated consumer is much more willing to accept the natural surpluses and shortfalls that come with producing safe and healthy food, and taking those kinds of risks makes it easier for us to grow cleaner and sustainably.”
2. Meal planning is made simple and in-season.
A CSA box is a chance to not think too much about dinner. Really! What’s in season and ready to harvest determines what’s included, so the planning starts based on the ingredients inside. The decision about what to cook that night is simplified, and who couldn’t use a bit more of that?
A weekly CSA box also builds an awareness of what’s really in season. It’s your opportunity to connect with local agriculture on a personal level and makes eating what’s available now easily accessible and delicious.
3. You’re supporting farmers who live in your community (or very nearby).
Most CSA members receive all their produce from one farm, sometimes with the option to buy extra shares for eggs, meat, fruit, cheese, honey and more when available. This gives you the chance to clearly see how a typical growing season works for a small, often family-run farm business. Many CSAs offer plenty of opportunities to connect directly with the farm, and you’ll often have a chance to meet and get to know your farm’s staff during pickup. But ultimately, your contribution makes a huge impact on a farm’s financial security. Farming depends on so many variables, especially when done at the small, local level. A heavy rain, late frost or just a slow day at a farmers’ market can sometimes make or break a farm’s season. By paying up front, you’re ensuring them sales throughout the season.
As Ivor explains, “This solid base of support [that] CSA members provide keeps things stable and sustainable. It also makes it possible for farmers to grow and expand into farmers’ markets and other wholesale opportunities to make local farm-fresh food more available to more people throughout the community.”
4. CSAs encourage adventurous eating for the whole family.
Get access every week to heirloom varieties or just produce not usually grown at the big scale required to make it to your local grocery store. You won’t always know what foods the season will bring, and that can be exciting, especially when something that you may have never tried on your own becomes a new favorite. Even the pickiest kids (or significant others) are much more willing to try new things when it comes with a personal connection.
5. You’ll connect with people interested in the same local food and farm adventure.
Being part of community supported agriculture means that you are now part of a community. CSA box pick-up time is always a great chance to connect with the people who grow your food, but it’s also an opportunity to meet and connect with other members invested in the same farm and the food adventure that comes with it.
“We’re always looking for opportunities for our CSA members to support and get to know each other,” says Ivor. “The best way for us to build a community that supports us is to facilitate that connection.” Right now he’s looking for ways to encourage people to talk food together, and to even swap a recipe or two.
Field Day Family Farm CSA members also have regular opportunities to volunteer at the farm, down to assembling CSA boxes for members to take home. Volunteering is a great way to get to know their farm apprentices (find out more about the Field Day Family Farm Apprentice Program here), who are the future leaders of the sustainable farm movement on a local, national and international level.
About the Farmer and the Farm
Ivor Chodkowski’s Field Day Family Farm has been in operation for more than 20 years. Ivor produces vegetables, and raises chickens and sometimes turkeys and hogs on 10 acres of land. He has a CSA of 65 families, does farmers’ markets and regularly employs more than half a dozen people on the farm. He’s been the catalyst behind the local sustainable food movement, both on a local and international level for most of that time.
Ivor was a founding board member of the Food Literacy Project, a nonprofit, farm-based educational opportunity for area children and youth at Field Day Family Farm. He’s also the force behind Harvest, the award-winning farm-to-table restaurant located in NuLu. Find out more about Ivor and and his work at — and beyond — Field Day Family Farm here.
Field Day Family Farm is an urban farm practicing community supported agriculture in Louisville, located on the Oxmoor Farm property between I-64 and the Oxmoor Country Club. They have pick-up locations in Crescent Hill and the Highlands, or you can pick up your box directly at the farm. Field Day Family Farm CSA members receive a harvest box of vegetables every week from May through November or December through March.
Find out more about Field Day Family Farm and buy your CSA share online at fielddayfamilyfarm.us. Or you can find out more in person by visiting the farm at their open house on Friday, April 14. Meet and greet the farmers, get a sneak peek at the farm’s upcoming season, eat delicious snacks from Grasshoppers Food, and hear a short explanation of community supported agriculture! If you’re interested, be sure to RSVP here.
This article is sponsored by Field Day Family Farm.