a peek inside the fishbowl

13 Apr, 2015

This blog is getting a veggie boost

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Giveaways and product reviews|Recipes and Food

Have you ever been part of a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture is a wonderful way of supporting areas farmers and eating seasonally, closer to home. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea, but never really followed through, mostly because I wasn’t sure if making this kind of Committment to Vegetables could actually work for my family.

For those who are new to the idea, when you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of produce from a local farmer. CSA members pay for the season’s produce up front and receive a weekly delivery throughout the summer and early fall, ultimately sharing the season’s bounty as well as the risk (of blight, of drought, etc.). It also means living a little closer to the land and truly knowing where our food comes from.

A few weeks ago I received an email from Michael Milsom, the man behind Mike’s Garden Harvest, a CSA here in Ottawa. Here he is:

Mike's Garden Harvest

He asked me if my family and I would like to sample his produce throughout the season, so we set up a time to chat about it a bit more. This guy is incredibly passionate about feeding families. His CSA had 32 members last year and almost all of the families returned this season. He’s growing (no pun intended) and this year he’s prepared to feed 125 local families.

As I see it, there are a few very big benefits of buying a share in a CSA:

  • This is locally grown, organic (!!) produce that is harvested at peak times, ensuring ultimate freshness.
  • It will reduce the amount of time I spend at the grocery store. Also, my regular grocery store doesn’t have great produce and sometimes I find myself going to multiple stores to get what I need. Home delivery of fresh veggies = more time to do other things. Woot!
  • There are also different varieties in play here, which I’m VERY excited about. Let’s look at the 2015 list of lettuce, for example: Flashy Trout Back, Muir, Baby Oak leaf, Concept, Ridgeline Romaine, Jericho Romaine, Crispano, Rhazes. (Do yourself a favour and see the whole list right here.)

I’m excited that we’re going to be eating a more diverse array of veggies. And who knows, maybe the girls will find something new they like… especially if they know it’s from “our” farm friend. And if we get too much of something? I will be gifting it to our neighbours. (WATCH OUT NEIGHBOURS!) :)

And so we chatted, and I agreed to the generous gift of a share, because who can refuse fresh veggies delivered to their door and the promise of wonderful meals for an entire summer? That being said, I’ll be tweeting a show and tell of each delivery and posting it on my Facebook page, along with my thoughts and observations of that week’s bounty. You may also see an influx of veggies in my Daily Lunches too. I’m also hoping that my family will have an opportunity to visit the farm at some point over the summer too, so we can really get the inside scoop. Stay tuned!

Have you ever tried a share in a CSA? Why or why not? I’d love to hear about your experience. Would you be interested in getting a share of Mike’s harvest this year and trying this veggie experiment with me for a season? If so, he still has a few shares available. Check out the options right here.

 


12 Responses to "This blog is getting a veggie boost"

1 | Misty Pratt

April 13th, 2015 at 10:32 am

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If I didn’t have a garden I’m sure we’d be doing CSA too. But as it is, we get overrun with veggies growing them ourselves (although, we still purchase certain things from the farmer’s market that we find hard to grow in our backyard – broccoli, cauliflower, and we haven’t had any luck with melons or squash!)

2 | Cath

April 13th, 2015 at 11:00 am

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We had one (with Bryson’s Farm which we love) for a number of years before we had kids. Then I just found I couldn’t keep up with it so we reluctantly cancelled, although we often go to farmers’ market. We now spend so much of the summer in PEI that I’m not sure it would make sense although I do really love the fun and excitement – as well as the challenge! – of the basket.

3 | Tarah

April 13th, 2015 at 11:35 am

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So excited for you! We participated in a local, organic CSA (October through March) here in Nova Scotia 2 years ago. It was so wonderful. The best part was trying all kinds of produce I had never even heard of! Unfortunately for us the couple who owned the farm decided to stop farming for a while (young family) and we haven’t been able to get another CSA since. However we are very lucky because we have a wonderful grass roots farmer’s market every Thursday morning which is year round. We have formed wonderful relationships with the farmers and vendors. My husband even worked for one of the farmers last year during his off season.

Enjoy! Look forward to seeing your future posts!

4 | jenn

April 13th, 2015 at 12:24 pm

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You had me convinced!! Then I went to the Savour Ottawa website and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to order it!!! Am I that technically challenged? I found a few things for this CSA but not the big delivery.

5 | Sasha

April 13th, 2015 at 12:51 pm

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Have always loved the idea of a CSA, but every time it comes up, I’ve tended to shy away. Local, organic, and (especially!) home-delivered* all appeal, but I’m worried about too much going to waste and having to (read: failing to) plan meals around whatever turns up.

* Addendum: From Mike’s CSA agreement: “Members are responsible for showing up at the farm/pick-up site/drop-off site to pick up your share of freshly harvested produce.” This made me think maybe you were just getting the blogger special ;). I perked up when further down the agreement talked about home delivery, but then instead worried about being home (not gonna happen on a weekday, PITA when we want to get out on a weekend) or being able to “make suitable arrangements” to receive the order.

So I expect I’m going to continue thinking it’s a great idea… and leave it at that :/

6 | Anna

April 13th, 2015 at 2:44 pm

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I’m sure you will love it!

We’ve been CSA members for almost 20 years, and the past few years with http://www.rootsandshootsfarm.com/

Every CSA is a bit different and his their pros and cons. What we love about our guys specifically (in addition to amazing produce) is that we can do vacation stops and get a credit for it for next year, we get an email update with recipes and a lsit of this weeks share (so that we can plan meals and shopping). We can also order eggs, organic chicken, dry goods and other goodies from other farmers on their web-site. Oh, and they have a great swap policy, don’t like something? You can exchange for anything you find in the swap box.

So if anyone is considering it, look around and compare the options, there will likely be a program that fits your needs.

7 | Michael Milsom

April 13th, 2015 at 3:08 pm

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Hi there,

Andrea asked me to chime in..so here I am :-)

First of all, one of the things that Andrea and I agreed to right from the beginning is that this venture would not in away compromise her journalistic integrity. She is to report the good, the bad and even the ugly :-) As long as you are in my deliver range..I will deliver to your door. (Far south as South Ottawa, Far North as Downtown Ottawa, Far East as Main Street and as Far West as Centerpointe. Three families in Orleans are working on grouping together and if they do, I’ll be delivering to them as well.

My baskets sizes are formally organized as such:

A full season share which is $545.00 and that ensures 18 weeks of delivery. (whole family or two vegans)

A half share which is $300.00 and provided 9 weeks of delivery typically delivered every other week. (one couple or one vegan)

And there is what I call a Flex Sampler Pack which is a coupon booklet for 5 weeks. With this the baskets are a bit smaller but for $165.00 you can contact me on the Monday of any given week and I’ll bring you a basket during my delivery. You will also be included in the weekly CSA membership News Letter which will come out every Sunday evening so you know what I am expecting to harvest in the week ahead so you can follow along. (one couple or person who travels a lot) Coupons never expire from one year to the next.

Roots and Shoots are awesome! Robin and Jess are extremely good farmers and friends. I have been fortunate this year to attract one of their membership because he is a neighbor of mine. His job is to make sure my baskets each week are every bit as good as that which he has come to expect. Last year was my first year at my current location which boasts of a very clay soil. It was hard to work but the high mineral content was worth it. My vegetables taste great and I wasn’t shy to tease Robin about that either :-)) This is the link to the testimonies I received unsolicited last season from my membership https://www.mikesgardenharvest.com/sign-up/testimonies-from-last-season/

At the end of the day..this is meant to be a fun thing that fits the needs of you and your household. That is what is important. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly at mamilsom@acn.net or by calling 613-314-3104. This is not to put you on some path to purchase. A CSA is not for everyone but it is a cool thing to learn about… and that is what Andrea and her family are doing :-)

8 | Ginger

April 13th, 2015 at 3:24 pm

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We did a CSA one year. It was amazing and overwhelming. We would get an entire cooler of food each week plus berries or potatoes or onions (depending on the time of year) and we often had the option to buy eggs and milk! I didn’t know what to do with half of the things we received. The next year we couldn’t do it financially because the boys needed OT and speech therapies. I think, if we were to do it again, I would be able to utilize the food better because our life is different now. I hope we can do it again soon (still dealing with all those therapies). I can’t wait to see what you get each week! :)

9 | Pierrette

April 13th, 2015 at 8:29 pm

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My husband and I have just signed up for our very first CSA membership with Mike from “Mike’s Garden Harvest”. We are looking forward to this experience and can’t wait for the first harvest and all of the subsequent weekly veggie baskets!
Thanks Mike for your “down to earth” approach. ????

10 | Wanda

April 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm

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We did a CSA and loved it. Because of job and life changes we stopped but were thinking of getting back at it again. I love cooking, so I found it exciting to get our share and have to plan ways to use it all up. A surprise in every delivery!

I had no problem going to our weekly pick up spot. I took my own bags and containers and picked up our share. It was definitely faster not more difficult than going to the grocery or produce store. It was far quicker than hitting a Farmer’s Market.

“Simply in Season” a Mennonite cookbook available at Ten Thousand Villages, became my favourite inspiration. It has simple recipes organized by season and produce name. There are lots of suggestions for substitutions or how to work with what you have.

You will love it Andrea. And not that your neighbours wouldn’t appreciate the extras…..I simply froze produce that I knew I wouldn’t have time to get to that week. We enjoyed it from the freezer months later.

I look forward to reading about your CSA adventure.

11 | andrea tomkins

April 15th, 2015 at 10:11 am

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Thanks all!
I just heard that Mike’s Garden Harvest will have a booth at the Westboro Farmer’s Market! This will be a good opportunity to meet and chat with Mike… and sample his produce too!

12 | Rocky

April 16th, 2015 at 5:58 pm

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Very informative article on CSA! Thanks for sharing!

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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