In Season

CSA Chronicles: Week 8

(By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick For The Washington Post)
By Stephanie Witt Sedgwick
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This summer and fall, In Season columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick is sharing her experiences as a member of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. CSA members pay in advance for a weekly delivery or pickup of produce and other fresh items from a local farm.

Here is her quick take for the week. Check out her accompanying recipe for Corn With Onion and Pancetta, which uses ingredients from her CSA bag, and watch for her column, which appears on the first Wednesday of every month in Food.

On the way to pick up our share, my 7-year-old son, Sammy, asked me a simple, revealing question: "Why are we going when we don't need anything?"

He had a point. The vegetable bins in our refrigerator are full. Between the CSA share and the vegetables I buy because I either want them (avocados) or use them regularly (carrots and celery), we could have skipped a week.

Arriving at the cooler where the shares are stored for pickup, Sammy had a change of heart. Once again Hana Newcomb, who runs our CSA, had a few surprises for us, and one for Sammy in particular. Though we had been told that our CSA shares would contain only vegetables, lately there has been at least one gift of fruit.

This weekend we hit the jackpot: a watermelon, a pint of blackberries and a community basket full of peaches topped with a sign that instructed us to claim five. Sammy has fallen in love with peaches this summer, so he happily started sorting through the fruit for the best specimens.

I sent the blackberries to a neighbor who babysits for us on occasion; some of our tomatoes went home with a playmate of my older son.

I took one look at the corn and knew just what to do with it. I cut off the kernels, sauteed them with diced onion and a little pancetta, and finished the dish with chopped parsley. It completed our dinner of grilled steak.

The farm-share newsletter warns us that seasonal changes are coming soon. I'm hoping the surprises keep coming as well.

In the bag this week: 1 watermelon, 1 pint of blackberries, 5 peaches, 3 ears of corn, 1 head of lettuce, 4 onions, 1 pound of flat green beans, 1 bunch of Swiss chard, 2 long green peppers, 12 tomatoes, 1 bunch of parsley and 1 bunch of Thai basil.

-- Stephanie Witt Sedgwick

© 2008 The Washington Post Company