Living in a city like Madison, WI, surrounded by beautiful, lush farmland, provides us with many choices for eating fresh produce, cheese, eggs, meats, etc.. Madison also has the distinguished honor of hosting the Saturday Dane County Farmers Market up on the capital square. Our farmers market is the nation’s largest and best attended farmers market. It even continues over the winter inside the Madison Senior Center. It’s a luxury I indulge in regularly from January thru April.

Beyond the farmers markets and the grocery stores, there is another really wonderful option for fresh food, which is to buy a share in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). So what does that mean really? Simply put, it means that you purchase a share of a farm in advance of that year’s growing season, and you either physically or spiritually “own” a piece of that farm for that season. By doing this, the CSA community who “owns” their farm benefits by receiving a weekly delivery of produce or whatever that farm offers and they also help the farmer because they share in the risks of the farm. Most years, the farmers have good growing conditions and everyone profits from super abundant weekly deliveries. Some years, however, are not as bountiful, like when a tornado comes thru and rips apart/floods a good part of the fields and the farm itself (yes, this happened one year). In years like these, you end up with less in your weekly delivery, BUT you help to sustain the farmers thru their crisis so that they can recover and once again return to their usual, bountiful selves. This is such an important component of the CSA – we can’t control nature, but we can control how we support our farmers who’s livelihood stems from what nature throws at them.

My family has been a member of the Young Earth Farm for the past several years. This farm was started by our friends Shirley Young and Karol Niemann. We had the utmost faith in their endeavor from the get-go, and they’ve had tremendous success. We’ve all eaten really well over the years. In fact, I’ve had to learn home canning processes because nearly each week we have more veg than we can use up. If you live in or around Madison, have a look at their website and see what they offer. We’ve been so lucky to have this relationship with their family, their business and their amazing produce. And again, just like using Simply Served Personal Chef service, when you buy a CSA you are supporting the local businesses in your area and keeping our local economies more robust

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