The Organic Adventurer

by Anna Rabhan
In the beginning of November, I picked up my first CSA share of the season. (If you’re new to The Organic Adventurer, you might want to read Organic Shopping in Jacksonville- EU, July 2010 and Eating Farm Fresh- EU, December 2010.) What a different experience from shopping at the grocery store! Vivian, one of the owners and farmers, had emailed members a few days before the pick up to remind us of some details and to let us newbies know that we would get a reusable shopping bag when we got there. Grateful for the tip, I was able to leave the majority of my own bags at home. I didn’t know how much food we would be getting, though, or how big the KYV bag would be, so I did take two of my own bags just in case.
Members could begin picking up their shares at 10 am I was so excited that I was almost on time (a minor miracle according to my husband)! The farm and farmhouse are on a little parcel near the end of a dirt road in a residential neighborhood. Thankfully, there is a cul-de-sac to turn around in and parking on the street didn’t seem to be a problem. A small sign at the end of the driveway directed members to the “store,” a small structure that KYV uses specifically for member pick ups. The sign almost wasn’t necessary, as three or four canine greeters welcomed each visitor at the driveway and led them toward the store, jogging along and looking back over their shoulders to make sure the bipeds were coming along.
Vivian was waiting in the store, along with a couple of members collecting their shares, when I arrived. A couple with small children was right behind me, and Vivan knew who each of us was, what emails we had exchanged with her and which of us were new members who needed bags. The bags are bright orange and roomy and have the KYV Farms name on them. I didn’t need additional bags after all. By the door, there was a table with a scale on it for weighing items best doled out by the pound. There was a refrigerator in the corner, and the rest of the room was lined with tables of arranged produce boxes. On the wall, a large whiteboard detailed what was in that week’s share and how much of each item members could take.
Vivian is so thoughtful and organized. She had all the veggies laid out so that the heavy stuff was picked up first and wouldn’t squish the light, leafy greens once everything was in the bag. KYV has to figure out how much of which items they have each week and how much of each item members can, therefore, have. In doing so, they have to juggle the weekly full-share pick ups and the biweekly half-share pick ups to make sure there is enough for everyone. Additionally, they have to factor in schedule changes that members request. I’m sure there are probably a dozen other considerations to keep things running smoothly that members aren’t even aware of, but Vivian and the rest of KYV make it seem so effortless. Making something difficult look easy is, of course, the signature of those who really know what they’re doing.
On to the question everyone was asking in the days just prior to the pick up- “What’s in the share?” We got a bag of green beans, up to 10 red radishes, three yellow squash, six slicing and six pickling cucumbers, four bell and four Cubanelle peppers, eight heads of Chinese broccoli, six bunches of Yukina spinach, six bok choy and a half pound of arugula. And, yes, it seemed like a lot of food to me too! I just had to keep reminding myself that those would be my only veggies for two weeks. I’ve also been asked if I was able to use it all and what I used it for. I’ll save the latter question for a separate dispatch. As to the former, the three squash were the only things we hadn’t managed to use by the end of the two weeks. Fortunately, squash keeps a lot longer than many other veggies so they became a Thanksgiving gift to my mother-in-law. If we had chosen the weekly full share, we definitely would not have been able to use everything up before getting a new batch of fresh veggies. Not the worst problem to have, in my book!