Now that growing season is here, it might be a good time to investigate ways to add more fresh, local produce to our diets and the benefits that might bring to our health and the environment.
CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, is a subscription-based system that connects farmers with consumers. Community members choose to join in with a farm and then receive produce that's in season on that farm each week.
This helps get the farm started each year and protects local food security by ensuring local farmers can continue to grow and sell food.
Becoming a CSA member ensures that you're supporting local, adding variety to your diet, and it could make your trips to the grocery store shorter and less frequent.
One local CSA farm is Valleyfield Farm, located in Echo Bay, owned by Martti and Melanie Lemieux. They have been growing nutrient-dense greens and grass-fed, pasture-raised meats and eggs on the farm since 2009.
"Securing good quality food was our main driver after starting a family. My husband and I became really interested in high-quality food for our children and ourselves,” said Melanie Lemieux.
Benefits of being a share member (CSA member) include food security and knowing you're supporting a farm producing food in their local area," Lemieux said.
"They're getting things that are fresh and picked that day or the day before, so it's a great way to get extra fresh produce. Also, by being a member, you get the first pick of all of our seasonal meat. Members are first in line for all of our other products as well," she said.
Lemieux says that the benefits of being a CSA member don't end there.
"You can't get food that fresh from a grocery store. We also grow a wider variety of unique vegetables that you wouldn’t find at the store because they're not made for mass production and shelf life. So people can try different varieties of things that they may not have had before," she said.
Products offered at Valleyfield Farm include grass-fed beef, grass-fed Icelandic lamb, raised on open range chickens, turkey, and eggs, and 50 different types of vegetables.
Community members have the option to choose home delivery, pick-up points, or to go to the farm to pick up their produce.
"We have several drop-off points within Sault Ste. Marie," Lemieux said.
Community members can visit Valleyfield Farm's website and subscribe to their mailing list to find out more about memberships and orders.
Other farms in the area offering CSA's include: