By Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm
Visitors to Capay Valley farms often get a lesson in the advantages of crop diversity: there are dozens of vegetables, fruits, nuts, herbs and flowers growing in the valley, not to mention the conservation plantings where one native shrub or another is in bloom almost any time of year.
A FarmShares member, hearing that recitation right about now, could not be blamed if they asked a friendly, innocent question like, “well where’s all that diversity in our boxes these days?”
When the asparagus starts to grow, we put it into the FarmShares boxes every week that we can, because it is only available for a few precious months. The height of production is in March, April and part of May in most years. This year we didn’t have enough for your boxes until the last week of March, but we’re hoping that the season will allow us to keep sending it your way through May.
Then there are the alliums. Allium is the genus of vegetables that includes onions, garlic and leeks. We have relied on these as a staple in your boxes this spring. Your dinners, like ours, have probably been starting quite regularly, with the chopping and frying of a fresh onion, leek or some green garlic.
The last oranges and citrus of winter have a been a staple as we look forward to spring and summer fruit. The rest of the box has been filled with herbs, greens and a special item like walnuts or dried fruit. Sometimes
the box doesn’t look as full at this time of year as it will in the summer. Those little bags of nuts and sun dried fruit are packed with flavor and nutrition, but a bit higher value per pound than the leafier veggies of winter.
The original concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) had the community pledging to share both the risks and benefits of farming with the farmer. FarmShares stays close to that CSA ideal in some ways: The weather and the seasons are reflected in your box—there are seasons of abundance, and seasons of scarcity; We share the abundance of the summer by adding extras and treats at that time of year; and everything we put in the boxes comes from our farms and is picked the day before delivery.
We have tempered the CSA ideal by providing flexibility and convenience in the scheduling and payment. It seems true that the greatest benefits on both sides of the CSA equation (the farmer and the members) go to those who make the commitment for all four seasons of the year. In fact, we love the sense of expectation and surprise in the spring as new things become ready for harvest.
What’s on the way soon? Lettuces, baby greens, potatoes and sugar snap peas. The first beans, corn and zucchini JUST emerged from the ground!