Growing up, my mom always had a huge garden – full of tomatoes, peas, squash, and broccoli – all the stuff that I hated to eat as a kid. When I got my own house, I tried growing a garden a few times, but was never successful – mainly because I didn’t realize how much time it takes to cultivate a really bountiful garden…it’s a lot.
Instead, I started frequenting the local farmers market every week. At the beginning, it was just a fun experience that I looked forward to every Sunday, but over time it really started to change how I eat. I began eating more seasonally. I began evaluating the companies from which I was buying. And most importantly, I joined a CSA.
If you’re unfamiliar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. At a very functional level, it’s a membership to get fresh produce every week. There are plenty of web-based services that provide something similar and ship them directly to your doorstep.
But a CSA is so much more than that.
A CSA is a connection to people and nature. It’s knowing the people who support their family growing the food that I serve to mine. It’s knowing exactly where my food was grown. It’s knowing the community of people that do the same – and swapping recipes and holiday cards with them.
My six year old son knows this connection too. He’ll ask about the squash we eat at dinner “Todd and Esmee grew this, right?” He knows the names of their boys. And when he outgrows something, he’ll suggest that we bring it to Wagner (Todd & Esmee’s son) on Sunday. He just knows. And that fills me with so much happiness. In a world that grows more disconnected everyday, knowing something as foundational about where your food comes from is really powerful. It roots me to my community; it connects me to what I’m putting in my body; it makes me give a shit about what is happening to our environment – because ultimately, we eat that too.
This winter, I’m so excited that MadTree Brewing is hosting the pick-up of, not only of the CSA I’ve belonged to for many years, Hazelfield Farm, but also the Winter Farmers Market in Hyde Park, and Carriage House Farms CSA. These farms and vendors are local families that work every day to grow food for you and me to put on our tables. Knowing their names, their stories, their families improves your life and theirs.