While most of us may have celebrated those snow days earlier this month, you can bet the local farmers weren't making snow-angels. Because it undoubtedly affected crops, City of Ate set out to discover how badly those February-frosts tinged the local leafage -- specifically the farmers contributing to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms.
City of Ate spoke with four separate independent farmers contributing to local CSA initiatives in DFW, and the consensus was that the February frost set them back a few weeks, but none of them expected any major decrease in their overall yield this spring. Turns out that most only lost a portion of their recently transplanted or young crops, and had to re-seed or re-transplant. But it's nothing CSA members shouldn't already know -- weather comes with the territory.
For those who aren't CSA members, buying into a CSA is much like an investment. You buy a share with the farm's production and whatever it produces that week, you get a piece. For your buck, you stand to get a brown bag full of a variety of the freshest produce in town, but just like the farms, your money's at the mercy of the elements. So if a plague of locusts (or more likely, a late-season freeze) overcomes the farm in mid-April and the farm loses everything, you can't expect much return for your purchase. In fairness though, the farms rarely, if ever, lose everything. Like earlier this month, some veggies made it and others got tilled under to fertilize the next round -- it's a radish, beet, radish world out there.
So because the weather and elements have a lot to do with success, buying into a CSA is buyer beware. Many of the area's CSAs aren't new to farming, but most of them are new to CSA, so research your farmer. Almost all CSA farms offer tours of their facilities. Some farms provide more variety while others shoot for bulk produce. If you're thinking about buying into a CSA, do your research, but if you want to live off the land, so to speak, a CSA is about as close as most city-dwellers can get without getting their hands dirty.
The farms have meeting places where customers can pick up their produce at scheduled times during the week. Memberships vary, but in general, the going rate around DFW is about $25 per week for a half-share that provides vegetables for two or three adults, if the elements permit.