In case you haven't noticed, there's not a lot of room for kitchen gardens in NYC. Oh sure, you can grow tomatoes on rooftops and herbs in window boxes, not to mention lettuces in Brooklyn and maybe even a respectable spread of eggplants and zukes in Queens or Staten Island. But not many of us have enough room to grow all our own fruits and vegetables, which is why green markets and CSAs are essential to any New Yorker who wants fresh, local food.
You all know what greenmarkets are, but how about a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture is a coop arrangement between a group of local foodies and a farmer. The farmer sells shares to members who pay in advance for fruits and vegetables throughout the year. By paying ahead of time you share some risk with the farmer. Will the spinach be attacked by beetles? Will the butternut squash be drowned by late summer rains? Maybe. That's the chance you take for seasonal food grown by a farmer you actually know.
And did I mention, you never know exactly what you're going to get until the food arrives? The delivery includes whatever is in season, meaning you won't get tomatoes in June or cucumbers in October. My share this week included: garlic, beets, carrots, potatoes, acorn squash, celeriac, parsley, dry beans, kale, cauliflower, pears, and apples. A cornucopia of autumn goodness.
Now's the time to subscribe for 2009! My own CSA sells out fast, so I re-subscribe nice and early. To find a CSA in New York City, check the Just Food website. If you're living somewhere else in the U S of A, check out Local Harvest. Type in your zip code and get a list of the CSAs nearest you.
Most groups recommend a half share for couples and a full share for families, but Michael and I easily get through a full share with just the two of us. You can buy an extra fruit share and supplement with monthly meat, egg, and cheese deliveries. There's maple syrup, honey, yogurt, bread...even fresh flowers if you're in the mood.
The point is that just because you live in a single room with one window that faces a brick wall (no wait, that's me) it doesn't mean you can't have fresh fruit and vegetables in the middle of this big, bad, hungry city.
Photos 2, 3 & 4 were taken by Adam Mastoon for my book: Down & Dirty: 43 Fun & Funky First Time Projects & Activities to Get You Gardening. I'm allowed to use them in conjunction with promoting the book, so consider this a promo!