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What is a "CSA," and How Do I Use It Up?

Johnson's Backyard Garden CSA at my Doorstep

Netflix for vegetables? It exists and is also incredibly important for sustainable agriculture in your community. A "CSA" or "Community Supported Agriculture" is essentially a farm share—subscribers purchase a "share" of the farm and receive seasonal produce in exchange (totally similar to Netflix, minus the whole movie thing...). In a CSA, different fruits, vegetables, and herbs come in your share each week, and it's a fun surprise to discover what's growing in your region. You can find your local CSA using the Local Harvest database to sign up for a fall CSA.

My local CSA comes from Johnson's Backyard Garden in Austin, Texas. They sent my first box directly to my door, including a bright and happy sunflower bunch! I was so excited to find beautiful poblano peppers, carrots, pickling cucumbers, eggplants, arugula, basil, a giant cantaloupe, okra, red potatoes, and zucchini. It was a total bounty in a box, but one question remained: How do I eat everything without going on cucumber overload? Since there are only two people in my house, it took a little bit of creativity to use up all the produce before it went south. Here are a few ideas, inspired by my Johnson's Backyard Garden box, to use up produce and saving the flavor of summer.

Cut Up Melon from JBG

Pickles from JBG Cucumbers, Okra, and Carrots

Unpack and Plan Your Attack I took all the produce out of the box and separated it, then put what I could in the fridge. Whenever you buy herbs, you should always cut the stems and place them in fresh water, kind of like flowers. My basil perked up quite a bit in fresh water and lasted about a week.

Cut, Chop and Prep I find that if I prepare fruit, I eat it faster. Cutting up melon, washing blueberries, slicing peaches--it's a matter of taking 10 minutes to prep food when you first get it, creating more of an incentive later to eat a healthy snack instead of reaching for chips.

Store for Later Got too many vegetables? Store or freeze for later! Make simple pickles: save okra for the winter with a hot paprika brine, or even try pickling carrots and hot peppers. Flash-steam vegetables and pack in zip-top bags to store in the freezer, or make soups and stews for later.

When In Doubt, Make a Salad A big, vegetable-filled salad.


Supporting your local farm is super important to your community! Sign up for a CSA or visit your local farmers' market to purchase your produce. The produce shown in this post was provided by Johnson's Backyard Garden in Austin, TX. 

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