I grew up on an acreage just outside a small(ish) town. My dad grew a garden, we had chickens for fresh eggs and over the years had different kinds of meat from animals we raised or my dad hunted including pigs, chicken and deer. Oh and we caught fish sometimes too. I hardly grew up on a farm and this kind of food did not make up most of what we ate, but it did give me a connection and understanding of what I was eating and how it got there.
My kids on the other hand are growing up in the city and that understanding is a bit harder to come by. The closest they get is the small backyard garden I’ve tried to grow the last couple years (with mixed results).
One small step I’m taking to help my kids gain some understanding is taking part in Community Supported Agriculture or (CSAs). In a CSA local producers sell shares of their produce with their community at the beginning of the season. This makes it easier for small farmers to continue to farm because the risk of bad crops is shared. Alberta can be a difficult climate to grow crops in so it’s particularly helpful where we live.
But the community supporters don’t just share in the risk, they also share in the rewards and receive fresh locally grown food. You can know how and where your food was grown and what methods they used to grow it. Best of all (for my goals) you can visit the farm and show your kids where their food comes from.
Eagle Creek Farms Winter CSA
As you might expect, there aren’t a lot of CSA options in Calgary during the Winter. Eagle Creek Farms runs an 8 week Winter vegetable CSA so we decided to give it a try. There’s less risk with the Winter CSA as the vegetables have largely been harvested and stored before it starts so you can get a good idea of what you’ll be getting when you sign up.
It runs for 8 weeks with pick ups every 2 weeks at one of two locations in Calgary. They offer a full or half share. This year the half share was $135 and the full share was $250.
They bring packaged bunches of the vegetables and you get to pick one of each for a half share or two of each for a full share. We decided to go for a half share.
The first week we got this:
A pumpkin, carrots, yellow potatoes, jerusalem artichokes, beets (most people got yellow beets but mine were red) and a head of garlic.
This was the contents of our second package:
Carrots, purple and yellow potatoes, kohlrabi, garlic and kale.
I’ve been pretty happy with it so far. The vegetables have all been great (but you do need to get out that scrub brush for the dirt!) and I like experimenting with some vegetables that I might not otherwise pick out at the grocery store.