Local farms have been a godsend during the pandemic, when many of us doubled down on cooking, and a trip to the farm stand or farmers market might be the focus of a weekend.
Now, as we look forward to the new growing season, there’s no better way to celebrate than signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Members of a CSA pay in advance for a "share" in a particular farm; in return, the farm provides a weekly box of whatever it reaps that week. More than a dozen local farms will attend the second annual CSA fair in Brentwood on March 13, 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. Most farms set up drop-off points throughout the Island for members’ convenience. Plan on spending $500 to $900.
The fair's participating farms include Thera Farms (located right on the grounds of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood), Garden of Eve in Riverhead, Restoration Farm in Old Bethpage, HOG (Hamlet Organic Garden) and Early Girl in Brookhaven, Sang Lee in Peconic and Hawthorne Valley, a biodynamic farm in the Hudson Valley that also raises beef, chicken and pork.
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 event holds appeal. First, the setting is the Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, a convent-school-community center whose glorious 200-acre campus comprises farms, meadows, woodland, a meditation labyrinth, and stunning architecture.
Green Street Food Truck will be providing vegan / gluten-free smoothies, bowls, tacos and more. And if all that isn’t inducement enough, Mike & Son knife-sharpening truck will be on site, so bring all your dull knives.
The CSA fair, presented by Slow Food North Shore, NOFA-NY and iEat Green, is completely outdoors and will adhere to COVID guidelines. It runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 13 (rain date is March 14) at the Sisters of St. Joseph (behind Building #4), 1725 Brentwood Rd., Brentwood. For more information, visit slowfoodnorthshore.org.