Get yourself in a CSA and love thy rutabaga

An early-season CSA basket from Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm.

I have a rutabaga the size of a human head in my living room.

Perhaps you are unimpressed by this revelation. Perhaps you’ve seen bigger rutabagas. That’s cool but I find its girth a little overwhelming. I’ve been eating rutabaga nearly every week for the past couple of months.

Again, you might find this unimpressive. But for someone who has maybe eaten it as many times in her whole life prior to this gorge-fest, this is big for me. So I might just name my human-head-sized rutabaga Vlad and hang with him a while longer before breaking out my vegetable peeler. You know, get a feel for him, chat him up and see what he’s about before turning  him into soup or fries. Or turning into a rutabaga myself since I’ve eaten so many…

To what do I owe this onslaught of the oval, off-white and tan root veggies that I’m now making the centre of my social life? A winter CSA from Creek Shore Farms. They always seem to have one obscure vegetable that is an over-achiever each year. Once it was the spaghetti squash. This year, it’s the rutabaga that has proven itself infallible.

No worries. I’ve been keeping up with soup and shepherd’s pie and pot pie and roasting. The latest issue of Saveur arrived at my door with a gorgeous recipe for a salad featuring roasted rutabaga that’s also in the cards at some point. It’s like the editors knew that some poor soul needed some guidance in her relationship with a rutabaga.

I am telling you this not as a complaint but as a celebration of the abundance that a CSA gives. I will be marking my 10th season as a member of Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm’s CSA this year, which keeps in me vegetables from spring until fall. That’s when the good folks at Creek Shore start their winter CSA to see me through the cold season with a plethora of potatoes, squash, carrots, the mighty rutabaga, kale and other leafy greens. Then comes March when I have no CSA basket and the wait for Linda’s weekly shares to start is agonizing. I ‘X’ the days on my calendar until I’m fetching my weekly veggie baskets from the porch of a downtown St. Catharines duplex again.

To enable others to experience such joy — it really is like Christmas every week when I unpack my haul— I took it upon myself in  this week’s column to encourage others to sign up for a CSA. I don’t usually post my columns here in blog post space (you can find links to them on the Ink page above). But I really want to spread the word about all the options for people to put more Niagara on their plates and help a small-scale farmer in the process.

Photo of two farmers standing in a vegetable field on a sunny day holding a basket of vegetables.

Rick and Shirley Ladouceur of Chez Nous Farms offer a certified organic CSA.

Here’s a link to the story: It’s time you joined a CSA

For those who want to cut right to it, the list of CSA providers in Niagara that I scrounged up is below. Check them out. Make some calls. Make friends with a farmer. Many will allow you to pay in installments, too, if the signup price seems daunting.

It’s all good.

Especially those rutabagas.

Niagara farms offering CSAs

Thiessen Farms, Jordan. 20 weeks. Mix of fruit and vegetables. Pickup or delivery.

Chez Nous Farms, Stevensville. Certified organic. 20 weeks. Vegetables with the option of adding eggs and/or extra greens. Pickup.

Bartel Farms, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Grown using organic methods. 20 weeks. Vegetables and berries with the option of eggs and/or honey sold on a first come, first served basis. Pickup. 905-937-5252.

Creek Shore Farms, St. Catharines. Grown using organic methods. 16 weeks. Vegetables. Pickup or delivery.

Fresh Start Farm, Waterford. 18 weeks. Vegetables. Delivery to Niagara.

Forty Mile Creek Farm, Grimsby. 20 weeks. Vegetables and some fruit, full and half shares. Pickup, and delivery within Grimsby.

Rhizome Farms, St. Catharines. Grown using organic methods. Late May/early June to mid-October. Vegetables. Pickup and delivery.

Rumar Farm, Fonthill. 18 weeks. Mix of fruit and vegetables. Pickup.

Sexsmith Farms, Ridgeway. 18 weeks. Vegetables. Pickup.

Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm, Wellandport. Grown using organic methods. 20 weeks. Vegetables. Pickup and drop-off locations, including St. Catharines and Fonthill.

Victor’s Farm Shares, Ridgeville. 18 weeks. Mix of fruit and vegetables. Pickup and delivery.

JFrans Family Farm, St. Catharines. Nine weeks or 18 weeks. Vegetables. Pickup and delivery.



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Category Food Finds, On the Farm


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