Thursday, November 12, 2009

My First Produce Share from Sweetwater

I picked up my first share of produce at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm today as part of my community-supported agriculture (CSA) membership. Click HERE for more information about Sweetwater and how to find a CSA near you.

I have a half membership. I paid $400 for 15 pickups (every other week from now until May). That comes out to $27 per pickup. I'd say $27 is a very reasonable price for all the beautiful produce shown above. The fact that it is organic and locally-grown is icing on the cake.

The pick-up process was very simple and pleasant. The farm was easy to find. It is near the intersection of Hillsborough Avenue and Hanley in Tampa, close to the airport. From Hanley, you turn onto Commanche. There are no signs - just a dead end street with a little bridge at the end. Parking is adequate along Cammanche. Cross the pedestrian bridge over Sweetwater Creek, and you enter the world of Sweetwater Farm. It's shady, peaceful, and inviting. Volunteers mill about doing farm chores. CSA members drift in to quietly pick up their shares at the barn.

Luckily, I knew where the barn was since I had been to one of the Sunday Markets. Otherwise, I probably would have felt lost. There was a welcome table with a sign-in sheet. I found my name on the sheet and put a check under today's date. No one approached me, so I asked one of the volunteers to guide me through the process since it was my first time. A very nice man named Roberto explained the very simple process they have for pick-ups.

Here's the drill - there is a table with all the produce in bins. On the chalkboard there is a listing of what is in each bin and how many of each you are suppose to take. The order of the list corresponds to the order of the bins.

There is a Swap Basket at the welcome table where you can trade out things you don't want for things other people have left in the basket. I wasn't so bold to do that this time, but I'm sure I'll be doing it in the future.

I was worried that since I came late in the day, I was going to get the bruised-up leftovers. However, I'm happy to report that the produce was consistently gorgeous! My only complaint is that the harvest seemed a little heavy on the salad greens. However, with some research, I might find other uses for some of the produce besides salads. Before my next pick-up, I'm going to come up with a systematic way to label the produce as I'm putting it in my bags. This should help me with my research and recipe searches.

After I gathered my produce, I chatted with Roberto for a bit. Turns out we both have children that are roughly the same age (that usually makes for an instant bond). Roberto use to live on the farm before he had children. If I were younger and sans family, I think I'd like to be part of their internship program and live on the farm.

Roberto generously offered to show us the chickens. He fed them greens (I never knew chickens ate greens). They don't have enough chickens to sell eggs. However, there is a vendor that sells eggs at the Sunday Market. We took a quick stroll around the growing plants and headed out. It was a very pleasant experience. I really love the easy-going peaceful vibe.

I split my membership with my parents, so I headed to their house to split up the treasure and eat dinner. Since we have so many salad greens, we decided to make a nice dinner salad with pecan-encrusted goat cheese and raspberry dressing. Absolutely delicious!

I'm very pleased so far with my CSA experience. I'm looking forward to finding out what our next harvest will bring!
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Kitchen of India Meals $1.60 on Amazon

Get a 6 pack of Kitchens of India ready-to-eat meals on Amazon for only $9.65. That comes out to $1.60 each (regularly $2.90). My husband loves to take these to work for lunch. Plus, they're vegetarian!

Here's how to get this price:
  • Click HERE to get to the Kitchens of India Ready to Eat Dinner Variety Pack, 10 ounce boxes (pack of 6)
  • Look on the right-hand column for the section titled "Subscribe and Save to take off 15%"
  • Chose "Subscribe Now". You will actually be subscribing to this service, but you can easily cancel it later by going to "My Accounts/Manage Your Subscribe and Save Subscriptions/Cancel This Subscription". However, this program looks like it might be a good deal for things you order on a regular basis.
  • At check out, enter code KOI32534 to save an additional 45%.
  • Shipping is free with the Subscribe and Save Program!
Thanks Thrifty Mama.
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