By Mary Ellen Psaltis
There is only one thing that can be agreed upon in the vast world of good health and nutrition: Eating vegetables is good for you. Vegetables are touted for vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and more. Even the skeptics will say that eating them won’t hurt you.
I do have one big caveat, however. Whenever possible, eat vegetables at the peak of their freshness. This means buying seasonally and close to home.
This is great news for those living in and around Thurston County. We live in a bountiful area that provides a banquet of seasonal options. There is a way to get a regular supply of fresh produce grown nearby. Buy a farmshare, also known as a CSA (Community Support Agriculture) share and be rewarded.
In the springtime (now), local growers offer to sell you a share of their farm produce. You pay upfront. Then through the spring, summer and even into fall, you get a bagful of ever changing produce that was grown on land nearby. Some farms are organic; many follow sustainable practices to ensure the viability of the land.
Why a Farm Share? You will be:
1. Getting farm fresh produce every week, and someone else will pick it out for you.
2. Discovering the joys of curly garlic scapes.
3. Be able to meet your farmer(s), and visit the farm if you like.
4. Using far less energy to get your food from farm to plate.
5. Supporting the local economy.
6. Tasting the way real vegetables are supposed to taste.
7. Challenged to prepare new dishes.
8. More appreciative of weather/growing conditions.
9. Giving your body an immune boost.
10. Surprised at something during the season.
The farmers will be:
1. Glad to have a portion of their produce sold and purchased ahead of time.
2. Appreciative of people eating their amazing food.
3. Making new friends.
Farmshares primarily include vegetables, but some farms offer flowers, fruit, chickens, eggs, and bread. You need to shop around to find what suits you best. Some offer a full share and others have a ½ share available. There are also choices about the length of your season – as some continue into fall when root vegetables are abundant.
For several years my CSA Farm Share came from Pigman’s Organic Produce Patch located in the Nisqually Valley. Jan and Dean Pigman are celebrating 23 years of farming. I liked their inclusion of fruits and herbs. Their pick-up sites include their farm and the downtown Farmers Market. The Market is a typical pick-up location but there are numerous places around town depending on the farmer. Pigman’s offer their members a 5% discount on other produce that you buy from them. They also have some flexibility when you will miss a week and let them know ahead of time (they might double your bag the following week.)
My favorite go-to cookbook for vegetables is called from Asparagus to Zucchini, a guide to Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce. For each vegetable there are cooking and storage tips and a number of recipes. This was helpful for my forays into preparing kohlrabi and baby bok choi.
You have multiple farms from which to pick your CSA FarmShare this year. There are also many growers who have their lovely food for sale throughout the seasons. The Farmers Market will be open in April. Think warm, growing thoughts and get ready for your northwest feasting.
Eat Well – Be Well
Here is a partial list of local produce enterprises:
- All Season Fruit Company, Chehalis
- Boisfort Valley Farm, Inc., Curtis
- Bone Dry Ridge, Rochester
- Broken Bow Farm, Rochester
- Bush Prairie Farm, Olympia
- Calliope Farm, Olympia
- Carr’s Organic Blueberry Farm
- Circle Hawk Farm, Olympia
- Common Ground CSA Farm, Olympia
- Cottage Industries NW, Olympia
- Delphinia Community Farm, Tumwater
- Greenman’s Garden, Shelton
- GRuB – Garden-Raised Bounty, Olympia
- Helsing Junction Farm, Rochester
- Honey Bear Farm Olympia, Olympia
- Johnson Berry Farm, LLC, Olympia
- Kirsop Farm, Tumwater
- Lattin’s Country Cider Mill & Farm, Olympia
- Left Foot Organics, Olympia
- Let Us Farm, Oakville
- Natures Creation, Elma
- The Olympia Farmer’s Market, Olympia
- Olympia Kiwanis Food Bank Gardens, Olympia
- The Organic Farm, TESC, Olympia
- PJ Farms, LLC, Centralia
- Pigmans Organic Produce Patch, Olympia
- Provisions Mushroom Farm
- Raven’s Grove Family Farm, Shelton
- Rising River Farm, Rochester
- Schilter Family Farm, Olympia
- Shelton Farmers Market
- Spooner Berry Farm, Olympia
- Stoney Plains Organic Farm, Tenino
- Sunbreak Farm, Olympia
- Tenino Farmers Market
- Tumwater Town Center Farmers Market, Tumwater
- Wobbly Cart Farming Collective, Rochester
For more details, go to the 2013 Direct Sales Farm Map from Community Farmland Trust. They are currently accepting applications for inclusion in the 2014 Farm Map here.