CSA Sign-Up Day is Nearly Here!

CSA-Day-Logo-3

Last week our family celebrated Candlemas, the mid-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. Though we are not seeing the snowdrops traditionally associated with the feast (in Britain, I’m guessing!), there are still subtle signs that winter’s grip is drawing to an end. This is also the time when we at the farm are beginning to think ahead to the coming growing season, which means that it’s time to recruit Community Shared Agriculture members for the coming year.

Our best prices are only on offer until CSA Sign-Up Day (February 23), which is less than three weeks away, so now is the time to sign-up for a year (or a season) of delicious farm fresh vegetables! We greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word to anyone in Saskatoon, the Battlefords, or our local area who might be interested.

To help folks understand what is involved, I have put together the following list of FAQs:

What is community shared agriculture?

Community shared agriculture is a beautiful partnership between vegetable growers and vegetable eaters. At the beginning of the season, members purchase a share in the farm’s production. Then, as the season progresses, they each receive their share of the harvest. One of the wonderful things about this system is that it allows us to decommodify food — people are not actually purchasing vegetables; they are purchasing the labour involved in growing those vegetables. Largo Farm is the longest running year-round CSA farm in Saskatchewan.

What are the benefits of membership?

By becoming a member of Largo Farm CSA, you become part of the farm. You share in the abundance of our vegetable gardens (and also support us in sharing the risk of poor harvests). You are welcome and encouraged to spend time on this beautiful farm – on your designated pick-up days, at organized farm gatherings, and at other times as well.

You are part of a sustainable farm community that nurtures this particular piece of creation. We do not use chemical pesticides or fertilizers, seldom irrigate, and work the soil using horses as much as possible. Our homes are off-grid, relying on wood for heat and cooking, water from the lake, and 12-Volt DC solar systems for other energy needs.

What vegetables are included?

The summer season begins with asparagus, spring greens, and rhubarb. Various greens and herbs continue all through the summer with peas, turnips, beans, carrots, potatoes, onions, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, and more being added as they are ready. Once July hits, you can expect to receive two large bags of assorted veggies each week until late September.

Winter members receive your season’s worth of squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, garlic, and peppers; whatever remains of summer veggies (depending on when frost hits this year), and a month’s worth of root veggies at fall pick-up (the last Sunday in September).

From November to May, winter members receive two large cloth bags of storage veggies once a month (though the bags become less full towards the end of the winter!). Carrots and potatoes are the mainstay, supplemented by onions, beets, rutabaga, and parsnips. And finally, we usher in spring with a bunch of the season’s first asparagus.

What are members responsible for?

Largo Farm members living in and around the Battlefords or Saskatoon cooperate as member rings. One member from each circle comes to the farm each vegetable pick-up day. In the summer, they spend about two hours helping to pick and sort vegetables. In the winter they spend about an hour at the farm organizing vegetables. They take all the vegetables for members of their circle home with them.

Each other member must pick up their vegetables from that person’s home and either leave their cloth bags at that home or take them to the home of the member doing the next pick-up.

Each full share is responsible for 1-2 summer pick-ups (2 for Saskatoon members, as the group is smaller) and 1 winter pick-up. Winter members are also asked to participate in our fall pick-up on the last Sunday afternoon of September, or to arrange for someone else to pick up their vegetables that day if they are unable to attend.

When do vegetable pick-ups take place?

Battlefords summer vegetable pick-ups happen every Sunday morning from June until the second last Sunday of September. Battlefords winter pick-ups happen on the first Sunday morning of every month from November until May.

Most Saskatoon summer vegetable pick-ups happen on Wednesdays, but there is the option to have some week-end pick-ups in June and September to allow members who work during the week to come for a farm pick-up. Saskatoon winter pick-ups are on the first Sunday afternoon of every month from November until May.

How much does a share cost?

If possible, members pay for their vegetables up-front at the beginning of the season. Alternate payment schedules can be arranged as necessary. Costs for 2018 are as follows:

Full share for the full year: $1100 ($1200 after Feb. 23)

Half share for the full year: $650 ($700 after Feb. 23)

Full share for one season (summer or winter): $600 ($650 after Feb. 23)

Half share for one season (summer or winter): $375 ($425 after Feb. 23).

Smaller households are encouraged to find their own sharing partner and divvy up the veggies themselves. This saves you money (since together you pay the full share price) and saves us the trouble of dividing orders here on the farm.

What if I am away for part of the season?

Members with smaller families sometimes find it convenient to share a membership with another family so and take turns taking the full share when the other family is on holiday. We also offer the option to put your membership on hold for a week or two and receive extra vegetables when you return.

How do I get more information?

For more information or to sign up, call or text Janice at (306) 481-5654, email her at sanfordbeck@hotmail.com, or call Judy at (306) 386-2601.

For our current members, this month’s veggies will continue to look familiar. We’ve got potatoes, carrots, and beets, which you will continue to see for the coming months, as well as what are likely the last of the parsnips and onions. The parsnips are keeping unusually well and it is possible we may still have a few left for next month. We know they are not everyone’s favourite though, so if you are a big parsnip fan, let us know and we will do our best to send a final parsnip or two in March.

For recipes this month, I have a few more beet suggestions, the first of which comes from Evelyn in Saskatoon:

Gingered beets:

1 1/2 lbs small beets, trimmed

1/3 cup raisins

2 Tbsp butter

1 1/2 tsp ginger root

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp finely slivered lime peel

Cover the beets in cold water and simmer uncovered until just tender. Remove just enough liquid to pour over the raisins in a small bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, peel and slice the beets. Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the ginger. Cook 5 minutes, then add the beets, drained raisins, sugar, and vinegar. Cook until heated through, then top with lime peel.

Jen in North Battleford recommends:

Fettucine with Grated Beets and Cheese

3 Tbsp poppy seeds

6 Tbsp butter

1 1/2 lbs beets, peeled and finely grated in a food processor

salt and pepper

1 lb fresh or dried fettucine

2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup minced chives, for garnish

Toast poppy seeds in a heavy saucepan over high heat until they smell slightly nutty, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add 5 Tbsp butter to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat until beginning to brown. Stir in the beets and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the beets are tender, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain and transfer to a warm serving bowl. Toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp butter and the cheese; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the beets and sprinkle with toasted poppy seeds. Add balsamic vinegar and chives.

And here is another beet salad that my family enjoys from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home:

Beets and Carrots in a Lime Vinaigrette

2 medium beets, peeled and cubed

2 medium carrots, sliced diagonally

1 cup fresh or frozen peas

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cubed (I omit when not in season)

6 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 Tbsp lime juice

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed

salt to taste

Lightly steam the beets, carrots, and peas in separate batches until just tender. Mix in a large bowl. Combine the dressing ingredients and toss with vegetables.

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