Local Food The CSA Way
Local Food The CSA Way

Last November our family bought a share in a CSA from Napoleon Ridge Farm in Napoleon, KY. Napoleon is one of those places that you’ll miss if you blink. It’s located in Gallatin County (Kentucky), just along I-71. Owned by Trisha Houston, Napoleon Ridge Farm grows produce and flowers, and raises chickens, pigs, and cows.

A CSA, short for community-supported agriculture, has become, at least for us, one of the best ways to consistently have access to local food and ingredients directly from a farm throughout the growing season. Farmers who have CSA programs sell a limited number of shares of their harvest every year. When someone joins a CSA they pay the farmer up front for one share of their harvest.

Last winter I contacted Napoleon Ridge to indicate that I’d like to join their CSA for 2012. I sent Farmer Trisha a check for a full share of her harvest. (She also sells half shares for smaller families or couples.) Beginning in mid-May we started our weekly pick-ups of produce and other ingredients from Trisha at the Covington Farmer’s Market. Each farmer designates different pickup days and times that are convenient for them. Trisha has Tuesday and Saturday pick-ups on Covington and in Clifton.

Every Saturday morning we meet Trisha in Covington and with no further exchange of money she gives us our weekly share of her harvest – plus more. So far this year weekly share has included a variety of vegetables, fruits, and other cooking ingredients. We’ve enjoyed honey, kale, mustard greens, garlic scapes, kohlrabi, fennel, cabbage, and blackberries. One week Trisha included a bottle of olive oil from an organic olive oil producer in Lexington, We have also eaten our fill of fresh brats, pork roast, ground beef, steaks, fresh chicken, and farm-fresh eggs. In late June we grilled two of the steaks and I have to say they were some of the best steak I’ve ever eaten, thanks to Trisha and her cows, and her care of the food. From what I understand the squash is almost ready and tomatoes and corn are sure to be delivered in late-July.

A CSA arrangement is a win for Farmer Trisha and for any farmer who has a CSA program. Trisha gets her money up front which helps her cash flow for the farm. In addition, she doesn’t have to worry about marketing her produce and meat during the busy growing season, it’s essentially already sold. For us, we get ultra-fresh local ingredients for our meals. Best of all we’ve developed a relationship with Trisha – she know us and we know her. A few weeks ago when the best male cook went to Covington to pick up our box, Trisha threw in some fresh chicken livers because, “Maggie will know what to do with these”.

The idea of a CSA is simple, but the results I believe are telling for city-dwellers, like us, who live outside of an agrarian lifestyle. We have access to fresh, locally …

See The Bread Masthead...

In August we had the good fortune of vacationing in Northern Michigan – Northport to be exact. This was our second summer vacationing there. We love the fresh water, cool summer air, and the local food and wine scene. We don’t need, nor did we rent, a fancy place to stay, although next time I will look for a cabin/cottage with softer water. Not sure if rustic and soft water are used in the same sentence when it comes to Michigan cabin/cottage rentals, but it’ll sure be worth a look.

My dining companions minus the best male cook I know
Bread from The Stonehouse Bakery
Smoked Trout from Carlson’s
Assorted Fresh Beans
Local Sweet Cherries
Pesto Hummus and Cracked Pepper Cheese
The Spread

Anyway, see the masthead (the photo at the top of the blog) with bread and fork. That’s a loaf of bread from a bakery in Leland, Michigan. I loved that bread, and that fork fed me one of the best local food meals I’ve ever consumed. We sat on the deck of our little green cabin, sipping a chilled bottle of local white wine, eating sweet, drippy cherries and just-blanched green beans, smoked trout from Carlson’s in Leland, Pesto Hummus from Two Redheads in downstate Michigan, and Cracked Black Pepper “Fresh” Cheese from Black Star Farms. It was a stellar ending to a relaxing week. So why am I telling you this at the beginning of November when the beans are gone, the cherries all picked, and we’re home from Michigan? Well for two reasons: I haven’t posted the pictures or told the story before, and I wanted you to know where the photo of the loaf of bread at the top of this blog originated. And I wanted you to know that sometimes the best meals are the simplest, and often only a short drive, or bicycle ride, away. (OK, maybe that’s more than two reasons.)…

Where Does Your Food Come From?

September 30, 2008 – Associated Press- A retail labeling law for fresh meats, fruits and vegetables will be implemented over the next six months on an interim basis to give all parties time to adjust and comply with the regulations. Federal officials said Tuesday that consumers will be able to tell where those products come from by looking at labels, stickers, placards and stamps placed on them in grocery stores. Farm groups have long pushed for country-of-origin labels. Meat from animals that are born, raised and slaughtered in the United States must be designated as such. Another label will spell out multiple countries of origin, such as “Product of U.S., Mexico and Canada.”