Sunday, January 6, 2013

Is CSA right for you? Season 4 with Roots and Shoots Farm Coming Up.

We have just received notice that it is time for returning clients to consider signing up for the next CSA season with Roots and Shoots Farm, located near Manotick Station, south of Ottawa.  So far, we have been participating in Community Supported Agriculture with this local, certified-organic farm for the 3 years they have been in production.

Will we be signing up for 2013? You bet. And here is why.

Robin Turner, Jess Weatherhead and their team are ambitious and customer focused. They constantly challenge themselves and their farm goals to produce the best product they can for us. It is a unique feeling to know your farmer and to feel a solid sense of trust.  It is something they strive for and do not take for granted.

Much care is taken to pick well and to store well so that produce comes to us with limited shelf time with them and longer shelf life for us. Produce is harvested the same day or the day before our pick-up. Vegetables sold at the large grocery chains just can't compete with that timing.

The price is reasonable for local organically grown produce.  As a CSA member, paying up front means that we receive a discount over market pricing.  As a returning CSA member, that savings is even greater. In our latest newsletter, Robin and Jess state that full shareholders received $605 worth of vegetables for an up-front payment of $530 for new CSA members. (We have just purchased half shares since we are a small household. This means we receive a basket every other week.)

Pick-up is convenient for us.  Although the farm is 25 kms from our home, our pick-up location in Westboro is just 1.5 kms away. There are a number of pick-up locations around the city, with a promise to return to Centretown.

There is a variety of produce throughout the July to October months and a pre-set basket invites us to explore new vegetables and varieties that we might not otherwise consider. (I have included pictures of all the baskets in 2012 at the bottom of the post.) Because we know the effort that was put in to provide for us, we feel a responsibility to use it wisely and to use it all. We actually find we have limited to no refrigerator 'rotter bin' waste. The long shelf life really helps with this too.

Communication is very good. Robin and Jess would like nothing better than to be outside 24/7 tending to the land. But they are very good at taking the time to send us a newsletter each week to let us know what is in our upcoming share.  This helps us in our meal planning and augmented shopping.  They also have been great to share recipes that they are finding work for them and are enjoyed by the crew.

We also have been told of new changes and improvements coming too.  The 2013 season will be 18 weeks long instead of 16.  They are implementing a system to allow for vacation time.  The farm will be offering more purchasing opportunity right at the farm and also on-line. And they are offering flower shares. Jess' new enterprise of beauty is really growing. 

The biggest plus that has us coming back - our produce each year has continued to improve in quality, with 2012 being notably tops.  This was due in part to Mother Nature's drought conditions throughout the summer that allowed the farm to strategically control their plentiful irrigation system.  Crop rotation and improved knowledge of the land, meant that crops were placed in fields that matched their soil requirements. Garlic is a good example of this.  Our garlic in 2012 was much improved over 2011.

Perhaps a CSA share just isn't for you.  It doesn't mean you will miss out. You can still enjoy buying their vegetables at the weekly local farmers' markets.  I would regularly trek over to see them at the Ottawa Farmers' Market at Brewer Park and in Westboro on the Byron linear park. They also attend other markets.

Here are a few pictures of our eye-catching vegetables from our CSA baskets in 2012.





Here are our 8 CSA basket from 2012!

Our 1st CSA basket in Week 2 - July 5, 2012
Our 2nd CSA basket in Week 4 - July 19, 2012
Our 3rd CSA basket in Week 6 - August 2, 2012
Our 4th CSA basket in Week 8 - August 16, 2012
Our 5th CSA basket in Week 10 - August 30, 2012
Our 6th CSA basket in Week 12 - September 13, 2012
Our 7th CSA basket in Week 14 - September 27, 2012

Our 8th CSA basket in Week 16 - October 11, 2012 We gifted to a friend since we were away.  She said there were also a brunch of beets with the basket.

Roots and Shoots Farm Vision
"Our long term vision is to create a dynamic farming cooperative that allows new producers to initiate and practice sustainable farming methods, while helping  Ottawa to become food secure."

If you want to learn more about the farm, the contact information for Roots and Shoots Farm is:

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