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CSA Scout: Spring Bounty Begins

Meg McCarthy's CSA box from Star Hollow Farm. (photo by Meg McCarthy)

As CSAs go, it's still a tad early to receive shares. Like farmers markets, most around here get going in May. But some of these community-supported agriculture programs, basically farm subscriptions, run year-round. One of the more interesting setups has to be that of Star Hollow Farm in Three Springs, Pa.

Instead of asking subscribers to pay an upfront fee (usually a few hundred to several hundred dollars) in exchange for a weekly pickup or delivery of a mixed bag of produce, Star Hollow allows for more flexibility. After their initial $300 members' deposit, subscribers order a box every week at Star Hollow's "online farmers market," where they also can add other items. They can pick up their orders at the Adams Morgan farmers market on Saturdays. If they don't want a CSA box that week, they just don't order it.

As a CSA'er myself, I'm envious of people who have the option of skipping the weekly box every now and then.

Subscribers pay $15 to $18 for the box (the money is deducted from their $300 account, which can be replenished), plus more for extra stuff. The farm runs the program year-round by partnering with other farms in the Tuscarora Organic Growers Coop, other regional producers, and in the depths of winter, other East Coast growers. Most of the produce is organic.

When I asked readers to be volunteer CSA Scouts (those who would agree to e-mail me weekly with details -- and photos -- of what's in their box and what they plan to do with it), I was excited that one of Star Hollow's D.C. subscribers had signed on.

Meg McCarthy has been cooking up a storm: making honey-ginger carrot parsnip latkes, grilled chicken sandwiches with sage pesto and apples, and simple salads with Bibb lettuce and thinly sliced radishes.

Last Saturday, she picked up her box to find another bounty of root vegetables, including more parsnips (she's getting a little sick of them) and salsify (lucky her). The latter is a great example of how a good CSA can prompt subscribers to try an unfamiliar, and in this case, delightful, vegetable.

McCarthy, 29, who lives with her boyfriend and sister in Columbia Heights, found a recipe for pan-roasted salsify from Craft chef Damon Wise, and planned to give it a shot.

Her plea: What to do with another head of cabbage? Here's something I've made many times from Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick, who gave us a recipe a week during her CSA Chronicles last year: Warm Ginger, Apple and Cabbage Slaw.

My own CSA and those of some of the other Scouts start soon, and we'll add to Meg's reports then. In the meantime, if you have ideas for Meg on what to do with anything you see in that photo above, by all means weigh in. I'm sure she'd appreciate it.

-- Joe Yonan

By Joe Yonan  |  April 30, 2009; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  CSA Scout , Recipes , Sustainable Food , To Market, To Market  | Tags: CSA, Joe Yonan, apples, cabbage, parsnips, radishes, salsify  
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Tried the Warm Ginger, Apple and Cabbage Slaw! Added extra ginger and loved it as a way to serve cabbage, which is not my favorite vegetable.

Posted by: megmccarthy | May 6, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Meg, here's another great cabbage recipe from one of my favorite food bloggers:

I think you'll like it. By the way, I'm a fellow Star Hollow CSA member.

Posted by: kperrystillerman | May 6, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

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