Glendale is getting ready for another year of fresh vegetables, fruit and flowers, as its Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA) is taking on new members for 2012.
Members of a CSA pay for the season in advance and sign up for vegetables and flowers, eggs or non-organic fruit. Members can choose one, two or three of the items.
Items can be picked up on every or every-other Saturday, and the program lasts from June through Thanksgiving.
The Glendale CSA is partnered with Garden of Eve Organic Farm in Riverhead, Long Island. Kevin Burns, who founded the organization in 2010 with his wife Kimberly Ferstler, said CSA’s are good for farmers because they get paid before their season starts.
Although New York City has about 100 CSA’s in total, few are in Queens, Burns said.
“It’s fun and adventurous,” he said of being a CSA member.
“You get some things that you maybe wouldn’t have purchased,” he said, “It does change a little bit your cooking habits and shopping habits.”
He said there is also a large social aspect involved in joining a CSA, because members share recipes and cooking tips. People often linger at the stands and talk to each other.
The CSA is hosting a trip to its partnering farm on May 19 and another in August.
“Each community has a different dynamic,” he said, adding that he was previously a Greenpoint and Forest Hills CSA member.
Burns said the Glendale CSA showed him a lot more diversity in the neighborhood, including a wide range of ages, occupations and opinions.
Some members join for health reasons, others because they care for the environment, while some are community oriented.
“I think everybody wants to eat better,” Burns said.
There are scholarships available for low-income members, and food leftover at the end of every Saturday is donated to a local food pantry.
The CSA last year had 75 members, it so far has 50 signed up for this year, but Burns is aiming for 80.
Bill Wenzel, a Glendale CSA member who’s lived in the area since 1980, said he used to be a member of a Manhattan CSA ,but joined this one when it opened three years ago because it is closer to where he lives.
“I believe that eating food that you don’t know quite where it came from and how it was processed is somewhat dangerous dealing with the long term,” Wenzel said.
In addition, “I believe that farmers should be able to get a fair price for their food.”
Wenzel also said not knowing exactly what he will get every week is an added thrill.
“I have gotten to sample foods that I walk passed in the local super markets and looked at them, but never knew how to eat them or how to prepare them,” he said. “So I’ve widened my food consumption quite a bit.”
For more information, visit GlendaleCSA.blogspot.com.