In the last year I have tried out participation in programs with local organic farms...it's the way George Washington and John Adams ate...it's the real deal!
While it started a bit trial and error and as a learning experience, it has ended up being very rewarding. I'm still doing it, and have been since February...so that alone should say something.
Just so you don't have to go through some of the issues I went through, allow me to impart some advice to you when you're considering one:
- Depending on where you live, you should have several to choose from in your area. While the idea of doing a little up front homework online might make you scratch your head, finding out your options in what is available to you will certainly pay off.
- A farm that knows what they're doing should have a website that's easy to navigate.
- You should be able to determine if they're certified organic...and if they're not, they might explain why on their website...most that aren't will claim that the certification costs money, but I don't know the validity of that. If they don't explain why they're certified organic, then ask. If it seems hokey from there, then move on. FYI - The better organic farm I've gone with in the last year was certified AND more affordable.
- You shouldn't have to pay more than $30 a week for a produce box. I currently pay $28 per week...that's $4 per day. That might seem like lots of money for veggies, but remember that you're getting the FRESHEST POSSIBLE stuff that you can't find in most grocery stores...and you're supporting a local organic farm, so there's something to be said about pride in purpose.
- When you pick up your veggies, it's already put together for you, and you'd be surprised at how much you get in a box...I can assure you it's more than enough to keep a household of two fed for a week, and we can't always finish everything!
- When given the option, get on board with a several week or seasonal program, which should usually offer a discount. It's all about long-term savings, and you worry less about when you pay.
- A farm that cares about its clients should allow you to modify options on your produce week to week.
- A good and reliable farm should have drop-off locations near your neighborhood.
- I'd suggest going with a weekly pickup, rather than bi-weekly, as some farms allow. It will provide you with fresher produce, and you won't ever wonder: "Is THIS the week I pick up my box?"
- Mark your pickup days, and when your program expires, on a calendar...as it then becomes a "happy errand" that's part of your weekly routine.
- Be courteous to your pickup spot and follow the etiquette; if you can't show up during the prescribed pickup times then alert them as such...don't be noisy...and return your boxes disassembled (per requests), for example. Just use common courtesy and common sense.
- Offering to be a pickup spot might sport you some free produce...but I'd try out the program first.
- Don't be taken aback if the produce has dirt on it. You need to wash the stuff no matter what...remember this is organic stuff!
- Don't expect the produce to look "pretty." For example, apples won't be shiny because they won't have the gross waxy stuff on their skin...remember this is the REAL DEAL!
- Eat fruit quickly...it can go bad fast...but remember you're getting more the following week!
To further educate yourself, you may read up on organic farming. It's worth a try, and you might be surprised at the benefits! S