My CSA and What Do You Do with Kale Anyway?!

A few months ago I read about a Community Supported Agriculture program or a CSA, and I was intrigued.  If you were like me and had never heard of them before, I will give you the low down.  A CSA is a partnership between you and a local farm, where you sign up to buy a weekly amount of food from them and they deliver it to a location close to you for pickup.  They harvest whatever is in season that week, and you receive enough fresh vegetables and fruit to feed a small or large family, depending on the share size you purchased. 

I searched for CSAs local to Pittsburgh, and found a website that was very comprehensive on  I read through a couple of websites and found the Dillner Family Farm located in Gibsonia, PA.  The Dillner Family Farm sells produce at several farmer's markets in the area on a weekly basis, and for their CSA, they just happen to bring the farmer's market to me by delivering to two Mt. Lebanon locations within a ten minute drive of my house.  I was so geeked to try it, that I told John all about it and had him convinced almost immediately.  He's so sweet!  So we signed up then, but I could not wait - I mean, I COULD NOT WAIT - for it to start.  As in, I emailed the Dillner Family Farm and told them how excited I was, I put a reminder in my Google calendar for the first CSA pickup, and I read John the first email I received from Dillner's containing details about the program.  I was pumped!!!!

The Dillner Family Farm CSA program runs for a total of 22 weeks, from the first week of June into October, and there were three options for share size for us to choose from, a small weekly family share (feeds 2-3 people), a large weekly family share (feeds 3-5 people), or a large family share every other weekThe cost is $300 for a small share and $475 for a large share, which works out to ~$13/week and ~$21/week for each respective share size.  The cost is very reasonable for what you may spend on produce at the store, but it's more ominous because it must be paid up front.  We decided on the small weekly family share, so that our produce would be fresh weekly and we would be likely to eat what we received, so as not to waste it.

One interesting part of a CSA, is that you don't know what you are getting in your shares until a few days before your pick up day.  The Dillner Family Farm sends an email on Monday detailing the contents for that week or the list can also be found on their website.  You may receive any combination of things from the 110 varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.  Anything from lettuce, strawberries, green peppers, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and wax green beans to more exotic items (well exotic to me anyway) like kohlrabi, collard greens, and kale.  They actually have their whole harvest calendar on their website, and it's quite impressive!  Every week you also have the option to order other items, organic brown eggs, poultry, soaps, other vegetables, jams and relishes, and Amish baked goods. 

Participating in a CSA program has so many benefits; supporting the local economy, supporting local farmers, expanding the volume and variety of produce on our table, and requiring me to be adventurous and flexible with our menu.  All of this taken into account, and I was sooooooooo very, very excited to get started on my 22 weeks of farm fresh produce for the summer.  Can you tell??

So when our CSA finally started this past Wednesday, I was very very excited to pick up my share.  I had received the email detailing what was in the share this week; strawberries, broccoli, radishes, lettuce (picked fresh that morning - so you better wash it!), green onions, zucchini, a basil plant, and kale.  So my first thoughts were...  Yay, strawberries!  Maybe more jam!!  Ooh, and basil - a whole plant too!  Wash the lettuce, check.  Oh, and what on earth is kale, and what - pray-tell - do you do with it??!  End of thoughts.  

Kale...  ?
While reading the Dillner Family Farm website, I noticed that they had recipes for some of the -ahem- exotic items -ahem- in their shares, and in those recipes, I found one for kale.  The recipe was for crispy kale, and it had about three ingredients.  This, I can do!  Kale is funny to me, because I have never had a recipe that calls for kale, I have never eaten kale (that I know of) and I don't know if the grocery store even sells kale!  So when I received my share, and my kale, I decided to try the crispy kale recipe.  And I'm totally hooked!  I have eaten almost all of the kale chips today, because they are delicious!!!  In fact, I'm eating them as I write this blog.  Say goodbye to the kale chips!!!

It's such an easy recipe, I'll share it with you... 

3-4 cups of kale, torn into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of cider vinegar

Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar on the kale, spread it out on baking sheets, and place on the bottom rack of a 350 degree oven.  Bake for 10 minutes, turn and bake for 10 more, or until they are beginning to brown.  When they come out of the oven, salt them to your liking.  Done.  Easy.  And soooooo very yummy!!

In short, I am in love.  With my CSA, with the variety of produce, with the surprises every week and with kale.  The next time I go to the grocery store, I'll actually be looking for kale to purchase - because my kale chips are now all gone...  :(  But maybe, just maybe, my CSA share next week will have more kale!  I guess I'll just have to wait for the email on Monday!!



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