We joined Starlight Gardens.
(Forgive me, readers, if this CSA thread bores you to tears.)
Why did we join?
1) Unfortunately, NOT because it is close to us. It is still a good half hour, similar to the one we joined last year. But the difference (and this is really important to us) is that the drive is much more pleasant. No major highway that gets NYC traffic all day long and gets clogged up for any minor disruption. In fact, I have never, ever experienced "traffic" on the drive to the town where our new CSA is located. The roads are almost like country roads. Not bad or headache-inducing. The hours of pick-up and the location are both conducive to either parent doing the pick up. So, it still flies a little in the face of one of my CSA resolutions, but okay, we'll just have to see how it goes.
2) The farmer, David, returned our call and answered all my questions in a really honest, candid, and genuine way. We've met him before at markets, and found that he *loved* to talk about his vegetables, which is a great sign. One of my questions was about his expectations for pick-up days, especially with regards to kids on the farm. I wanted to know whether this would be a good spot for the kids to get out and run around, or if that was not a good idea. It was something he said that he was trying to figure out (this is their first year of a CSA). On the one hand, he said, the whole point was to get people more connected with their food. On the other hand, this is his home and his backyard and they will want/need to maintain some level of privacy and some boundaries. He basically said that he didn't know how it was going to work, but they were thinking about it. While I think it would be great if T would get the chance to see the plants and play a bit, I also think it is important to know ahead of time if that is appropriate or not. I know if I were running a CSA where I lived it would probably get too stressful and chaotic if everyone's kids were running around everywhere 2 days a week. It's good for both the CSA subscribers and the growers to communicate about these boundaries ahead of time so everyone's on the same page, and it's not just kids. I can imagine people bringing their welcome or unwelcome dogs, or even just having adults poking around willy-nilly would probably get tiresome.
3) While this is the first year of their CSA, they have been growing successfully and organically in CT for 12 years. That's a great track record! We've been really happy with the tomato plants we bought from them last year, and always happy with the greens we've gotten at markets. When I was very pregnant we bought some greens, and David said that he always has a gift for newborn babies at the market, and to bring our baby when he's born. We did and we got a nice bag of greens. I just thought that was sweet and totally unexpected.
4) Part of the reason we joined is because I really haven't had much fun at the area's farmer's markets. They can be fun on occasion, and we will still go, but I was getting weary of feeling like we had to divide our weekend up so that we would make it to a market. It will be nice to know that even if we go away for the weekend, or make plans with friends or family, we can still have fresh vegetables. We have precious few free weekend days and I'd like to have more opportunities to take the kids to forests, beaches, mountains, etc., rather than downtown to get our food.
5) Our expectations for the produce we'll get have been changed. Hopefully we will get some great food, but we're a bit more realistic now. Hopefully it will be better than last year. At least this time around I feel like I know the farmer a bit better and have the good faith that I lacked last year.
So there you have it. We will keep you posted!