Look no further. There are dozens of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) throughout the state. Seacoast Eat Local provides a list here. CSAs aren’t just for overzealous parents or foodies; they are a relatively inexpensive alternative to less-than-colorful and less-than-flavorful grocery store produce. I always thought that farm shares were out of my league. What kind of recent college grad can afford bok choy and chard? My thinking changed when I actually did some research.
I recently signed up for the Heron Pond Farm CSA. A half share, at $325 a season, is more than enough to provide my roommate and me fresh produce throughout the week. If you do the math, it works out to about $8/week (assuming a 20-week season). On top of the obvious health/financial benefits, it’s kind of fun. It’s like having your own personal grocery shopper because each week’s share is determined by the farmers themselves. Think Big Brother but in a “eat your vegetables”-leafy-greens-and-not-evil kind of way. This week’s share included carrots, kale, mixed salad greens, garlic scapes (look it up!), strawberries, tomatoes, and lettuce. The mix changes as the food is harvested, but a few staples remain throughout most of the season.
The whole process is streamlined and pleasant. There are pickup locations conveniently located near downtown Portsmouth and Dover, as well as at the farm itself in South Hampton. Who doesn’t want an excuse to walk through their community brandishing a fashionable tote bag on a gorgeous summer day? Regarding tote bags, there are some hilarious ones for sale at Off Piste on Congress Street in Portsmouth.
CSAs aren’t just good for you; they’re a great way to support local farms as opposed to big agribusiness and wasteful transnational shipping practices. You know that the food you’re eating is in season because it was grown nearby. The quality is to die for. Who knew that strawberries were supposed to be juicy, sweet, and red all the way through? While the 2016 summer season has already begun, it probably isn’t too late to hop on the bandwagon. Whether you’re trying to eat healthier, want to play a bigger role in your community, or just love good food, tracking down your local CSA is probably a good idea.