Beets and more from Early Girl Farm in Brookhaven.

Beets and more from Early Girl Farm in Brookhaven. Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Winter will be hanging around for a few more weeks, but it’s not too early to start thinking about this year’s growing season and the bounty it promises. The most economical way to enjoy produce from local farms is to enroll in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Members of a CSA pay in advance for a portion of the harvest at a particular farm; in return, the farm keeps the member stocked with produce throughout the spring, summer and fall. More than a dozen local farms will attend the fourth annual CSA fair in Brentwood on Saturday, March 9, and visitors can decide which farm, and which plan, is best for them.

CSAs are great for folks who want a steady and value-priced stream of local produce, and they are great for farmers because they provide much-needed capital at the beginning of the growing season. Some plans are weekly, others biweekly. Some allow you to customize your box, others include options for “add-ons” such as flowers, eggs, meat, fish or cheese. All farms welcome members for scheduled pickups; many set up drop-off points throughout the Island. Plan on spending $500 to $900 for the season.

The fair's participating farms include Crossroads in Malverne, Restoration Farm in Old Bethpage, Elija Farm in South Huntington, Dobler Farms in Deer Park, Happy Now Farm of Centerport, Red Fox Farms in Brentwood, Route 27 Hemp Yard in Moriches, H.O.G. (Hamlet Organic Garden) Farm and Early Girl in Brookhaven Hamlet, Natural Earth Organics and Barefoot Gardens of Calverton, Garden of Eve in Riverhead, Oregon Road Organics in Cutchogue and Green Thumb of Water Mill.

Nella Stranieri at Crossroads Farm at Grossmans in Malverne.

Nella Stranieri at Crossroads Farm at Grossmans in Malverne. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Most CSA deliveries get underway in May, with salad greens and perhaps with asparagus. Then it’s off to the races, with spinach and strawberries in June, beans, corn, zucchini and peppers in July, tomatoes and broccoli in August, cauliflower and cabbage in September, collards and winter squash in October.

Even if you’re not interested in joining a CSA, the indoor event has plenty to recommend it. The setting is the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, a convent-school-community center whose glorious 200-acre campus comprises farms, meadows, woodland and a meditation labyrinth. Food vendors making the scene include I Eat Green, Johnny Breads, Nelly’s Empanadas, Tend Coffee and Dom’s Honey. And if all that isn’t inducement enough, the Unique Sharpening truck will be on site, so bring all your dull knives.

You will also have a chance to learn about the work of some Long Island nonprofit organizations such as Food And Water Watch, LI Organics Council, SSJ Sustainability Dept. and Slow Food North Shore.

The CSA fair is presented by Slow Food North Shore, iEat Green, NOFA-NY and Deep Roots Farmers Market. It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 9 at the Sisters of St. Joseph in Building #2, 1725 Brentwood Rd., Brentwood. Details at or 516-238-3616.

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