*by Owl's Nest Market CSA member Denise Graveline
It's winter and it's tough to imagine a full season of fresh, locally produced vegetables and herbs coming your way. But now's the time to subscribe to a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share--not just for yourself, but for these people on your gifting list. You can wait until early 2017 to sign up, but if you want to make your gift recipients happy, sign up someone you love now. These folks are secretly hoping you'll take the hint:
- The chef, or the wannabe chef: What cook--pro or self-proclaimed--wouldn't want a fresh weekly supply of vegetables, including "baby" versions of bok choi or cabbage, and more? The professional chef or the big-time home cook will love learning about different vegetables, and appreciate the local origin.
- The new vegan or vegetarian: Changing your diet's a big deal. Help the new vegan or vegetarian with a regular supply of new opportunities for flavor and variety in that diet. That works even if you just want your diet to include more vegetables. Don't forget to give this gift to the mom or dad with teens who've decided to go veggie or vegan, too.
- The bargain hunting college and beyond crowd: If you love a group of young professionals or college kids trying to stretch a dollar, the gift of fresh vegetables for several months of the year will make you the secret hero of the millennial set...and they can totally get behind the organic practices and locavore focus of a CSA.
- The person worried about food contamination scares: We all should be in this group, but if someone on your gift list wants to know where her food comes from, there's no better option than a CSA share. She can talk to the farmers, visit the farm, and understand just how her vegetables were prepared. No supermarket gift card is offering that.
- The environmentalist: Owl's Nest Farm uses organic practices with its vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruit--often, something as simple as a row cover prevents damage from insects easier than a pesticide, and with healthier results for you and for the planet. Your share travels less far than the produce in the grocery store, saving on fossil fuels. And what better way to say, "I'm with you on saving the planet?"
- The step-counter: If your giftee just got a Fitbit or other step-counter, CSAs can help them reach their daily step goals. Owl's Nest Farm gives me the option of five pickup locations for the share, as well as the option to shop my share at a nearby farmers' market. I chose to walk to Petworth Community Market--a mile from my house--so that every pickup at the farmers' market means getting in two pleasant miles on Saturday mornings in spring, summer, and fall.
- The soulful teen: The teenager who wants to give back to the community and the planet can get behind a new responsibility, managing a share and learning how to clean, store, and cook the fresh vegetables in the bargain. And she can volunteer at the farm, too.
- The family with kids: Getting kids to eat their vegetables gets easier when you can make a game out of the choices available and new options on the plate. Make the weekly share something the whole family looks forward to.
- The one-stop-shopper: No question, vegetables are the stars at Owl's Nest Farm. But the lush fresh herbs, bouquets of heirloom flowers, and fruits like their spectacular strawberries or fragrant melons round out the share, and make the farm CSA an easy way to cover many bases.
- The grill master: From herbs to put under those charred meats (I love Owl's Nest rosemary and oregano for this purpose), to vegetables to grill for sides, get your grill master's game on with an ever-changing array of vegetable options.
- The pickler and preserver: A CSA share will put the pickler and preserver through their paces throughout the season. From baby cucumbers to green tomato chutney, kimchi, and preserved or pickled peppers, tomatoes, and more, the CSA has you covered.
Not sure how your gift recipient will deal with a big onslaught of vegetables? Owl's Nest offers half shares as well as full shares. Or, offer to split a share with your giftee. You can learn together about the vegetables and compare notes on recipes.