Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to get signed up with my local CSA (Nature’s Route Farm ). Look at what I was missing:

Fall Bounty

If you’re unfamiliar with Community Supported Agriculture, here’s the Wikipedia low down: Community-supported agriculture (CSA) is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme and sometimes includes dairy products and meat. *

The risk is that you have a crummy growing season and get little return for your investment. The benefits, however, are quite substantial. First and foremost, you support the farmers, their employees and their family. You and all the members of the CSA ensure the farmer can continue to operate their farm with less financial strain and worry (especially important if it is a crummy growing season). Secondly, you get some amazing produce! Each week, you pick up your portion of the most beautiful produce that’s fresh, local and tends to be grown either organically or as organic as possible. Picking up a weekly portion of vegetables is a great way to flex your creative culinary skills. Don’t know what kohlrabi is or how to cook it? Me neither, but I’m excited to figure it out!

In honour of fresh local food, here’s one of my favourite butternut squash recipes. Delicious, fast, nutritious and incredibly easy to make:

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

1 butternut squash – any size – peeled, innards scooped out and chopped into large chunks

1 large onion, peeled, coarsely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

2-3 apples, cored, leave peel on

1-2 tbsp olive oil (just eyeball it)

Approximately 4 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients, except broth,  in a 9×13 deep dish pan, pour oil and stir. Bake at 425 degrees until squash is soft. Don’t worry about the charred bits – it adds a nice flavour to the soup. When squash is cooked, allow to cool to room temperature.

2. While squash is resting, *toast  1 tbsp curry powder, preferably Madras powder.

3. Toss baked squash mixture into a Dutch oven, add in broth and stir in toasted curry powder. Using an immersion blender, blend it up. Bring to a simmer to re-heat and serve. Season to taste.

Delicious served with a dollop of creme fraiche/yogurt/sour cream and some chopped chives. To get really fancy, brown some butter and swirl on top of each bowl for a lovely presentation and deep, rich flavour. Enjoy!

* Toasting: put curry powder in a small pot on medium heat and heat spices until they become aromatic. Be careful not to let the curry powder burn. Toasting helps bring out the flavour.