Here in the Pacific Northwest, eating seasonally doesn't stop when summer ends. Far from it, there is always something new making its seasonal debut. In the last three years, we've seen tremendous growth in demand for winter shares, and in the number of farms offering them. Winter shares are typically smaller and cheaper than main season shares, so if you've never belonged to a CSA, winter is a great time to try it out!
What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture is a trusted relationship between you and a local farm. When you purchase a CSA share, you are providing your farmer with the resources they need to grow your food. In return, your farmer commits to giving you a “share” of their crop, and you receive the highest-quality, sustainably-grown food available, all season long. Basically, it's like a magazine subscription, but for food!
Overall, CSA is an opportunity to experience food in a new way. Every week your farmer delivers a variety of fresh, nutritious foods to convenient locations in your neighborhood. You get quality produce at the peak of its season, and varieties of vegetables not available in stores. And farmers know how intimidating all those unfamiliar veggies can be, so they often provide tips and recipes to help you prepare new seasonal dishes that will quickly become your favorite. Your CSA foods are more than just groceries — they’re an experience and an opportunity to explore.
What Should you Expect in a Winter CSA Box?
Before we get to talking about the vast variety of vegetables that are in their prime during the winter, not all CSA boxes are just about vegetables! Part of the joy of finding the right winter CSA program for you is finding a farm that has an offering that fits your diet. In addition to vegetables or sometimes entirely in place of them, many farms offer local cuts of meat, eggs, cheese, fermented goods, dried and canned goods, and mushrooms.
And as far as the winter produce goes, from hardy greens and chicories to root crops and winter squash, there really are so many different veggies to explore and enjoy. When that first frost hits, the natural sugars in the crops explode. You just can't get these flavors in grocery stores.
When it comes to root vegetables, there is so much more than just carrots and potatoes. Savory celeriac, sweet parsnips, and rich rutabagas all offer different flavor profiles and are absolutely delicious tossed up into a roasted root medley or breakfast root hash. Next up come a rainbow of winter squash, each unique and suited for different recipes, including delicata, kabocha, butternut, pie pumpkins, and many many more!
As for the greens, there is again so much to enjoy! Hardy winter greens that make for incredible tossed salads, sautées, and frittatas include a variety of kales and collards, Brussels sprouts and kalettes, and of course the almighty cabbage. And frost tolerant salad greens such as chicories and mache are just waiting to become gorgeous winter salads, adorned with fall apples, hazelnuts, and a little chèvre.
Are Winter CSA Memberships Expensive?
These days signing up to be a CSA member is getting easier and easier. Compared to many summer season CSA programs, Winter CSA programs often run for fewer weeks and are therefore much more affordable and manageable to pay for up front. And, if you pay for shares with SNAP, we offer $100 off the price of the share through the Double Up Food Bucks program. Eating local is becoming more affordable than ever, because everyone should have access to healthy, fresh foods.
What Farms are Offering Winter CSA Shares this Season?
This season there are many farms offering winter CSA shares all around the state. Peruse the list of winter farmers below who are offering winter shares this season, and use our Find a Farm search tool to find the right winter share for you!
Anchor Ranch Farm (meat)
Cloud Cap Mushrooms (mushrooms)
Full Farm CSA (full diet CSA)
One Up Farm (mushrooms)
PK Pastures (meat)
Terra Farma (meat)
Totum Farm (meat)