Sunday, January 23, 2011

Community supported awesome.

Back in November, I discussed my motivations for joining a CSA – community supported agriculture – program and that I had just signed up for a 4-week trial membership with Eatwell Farm. Now that I’ve received all four boxes, on an every other week basis, I am ready to report back.

The Eatwell Farm CSA is fantastic! We get a large box full of fruits and vegetables. There is enough variety to make lots of different dishes either by combining veggies or just on their own. I have tried several new vegetables that, frankly, I would have been afraid to pick up before. Things like arugula, salad turnips, and watermelon daikon have all earned an unexpected and happy place in my kitchen. Persimmons appeared in my first two boxes, and they are just about the sweetest fruits I have ever tasted!

Here’s a quick list of all the foods we have received from Eatwell Farm:
  • Rosemary, parsley, cilantro, sage, oregano, dill
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Kabucha squash
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Leeks
  • Chard
  • Apples
  • Persimmons
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Lemons
  • Mandarin/navel oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Bitter greens (escarole and frisee)
  • Romanesco cauliflower (we met this guy a while back!)
  • Mustard greens
  • Turnips
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Bok Choy
  • Tokyo salad turnips
  • Cabbage
  • Potatoes
  • Tatsoi
  • Watermelon daikon
  • Celeriac
  • Kohlrabi
Along with all the yummy food, Eatwell provides a little pamphlet with each box. It lists all the foods in the box along with descriptions of the flavors you can expect and how best to use each food. Sometimes there are even recipes, and there are often pictures and stories about the farm. The pamphlets are super useful, especially for those initial “what the heck is that thing” moments when I first peek in the box. They also make me feel more connected to the farm and more confident that I am doing the right thing being a part of their CSA program.

One of the main reasons I picked this particular farm was that they offer eggs. We get a half dozen with each box. They are brown and sometimes spotted, and they have the biggest brightest yolks I have ever seen. My husband cooks them sunnyside up, and what a sun! We used to put two eggs over half a toasted English muffin, but now each egg needs it’s own. These eggs are delicious, and knowing the chickens are happy makes me happy too.

Picking up my box has been pretty easy. The boxes and coolers at my pick up location are within an enclosed patio with street parking available right in front of the house. I could take the whole box and then bring it back the following week, but instead I bring a couple of reusable bags and transfer the food from box to bag. The boxes are available for pick up from 1pm – 8pm so I can always work it into my Thursday schedule. I pick up every other week, and so far, it hasn’t posed a problem.

One of my favorite things about working with Eatwell Farm is their communication. They have a slick and informative website including a regularly-updated blog about the farm, food, and recipes, and they have separate postings listing what foods you can expect in each box. That makes planning meals ahead of time really easy. Another thing I really appreciate is their email reminder system. I get a message the day before I am due to receive a box. Given that I pick up every other week, this is a very useful feature! I never have to worry that I mixed up my Thursdays. I also got an email with renewal details when I was down to my last box. I rely on email for the majority of my communication, and knowing that Eatwell Farm can fit into that lifestyle makes the whole process stress-free.

At this point, you may be wondering if there have been any drawbacks. Well, yes, but none so important as to make me reconsider my decision to join. All of the food comes a little dirtier than it would be in the grocery store. This is not generally a problem for me – this food does come up out of the ground after all – but the spinach has arrived simply smothered in mud. It takes forever to clean, and I simply don’t like spinach enough to make the effort worthwhile. Last time I picked up my box, I simply tossed the spinach into the trade box and took some salad turnips instead. Yum! Another drawback is having to pick up the box in Berkeley. It’s close to my work so it hasn’t been a big problem. However, a drop off in Fremont would certainly be more convenient. It’s not really Eatwell’s fault, of course. Someone has to volunteer to be a drop off location.

Now that my trial subscription is up, I am signing up for a full 12-box subscription that should carry me through until the farm stand opens again in the summer. Actually, Eatwell throws in a 13th box for free and offers some lavender products as a special treat for subscribing. The price with a half dozen eggs comes out to $29 per box, a few dollars cheaper than the trial membership price. It’s hard to compare this price with what we would pay at a grocery store since there is so little overlap in foods. It seems like a fair price to me though, and we are very happy with our decision. Thank you Eatwell Farm!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Alyssa! We are happy to have you as a member of the Eatwell Farm family!