C – S – WHAT!?

At no time do I feel quite so out of touch with nature as when I go to our CSA for our weekly pickup.

I’ll make no bones about it, I am much more at home in the Nordstrom shoe department than I am in a field of peas. But it is very important to me to support those who are at home in the fields, which is why our family decided to join a CSA this year.

C – S – Whaaaahhhhh???

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, a group of people contribute a sum of money at the beginning of the growing season to buy a share in a local farm so that those who are more familiar with the life cycle of a pea may plant and grow a variety of fruits and vegetables for everyone to share.

It’s a nifty set-up. It saves me from damaging my manicure trying to grow vegetables in my backyard, and it supports local farmers so that they can continue to farm the land. Plus it gives us city folk access to an abundance of fresh, locally and organically grown fruits and veggies. If the farmer prospers, so do we. If it’s a rough year for agriculture, we help absorb some of that cost so they can keep farming.

You have no choice about what you will get each week — it is whatever is in season and growing well in your climate. The amount of produce you bring home is in direct proportion to how well it is growing.

bountiful CSA harvest

I won’t lie. It is daunting at times.

I am splitting a share with a neighbor, and we can’t eat everything we are getting each week. I can’t imagine doing a full share. (The photo above is the full share.)

You also get to know a lot of new vegetables throughout the process. If you’ve lived your life on broccoli and carrots, you may be in for a rude awakening.

This year I have been introduced to kohlrabi and tat soi, I’ve learned how to pick snap peas, and I’ve discovered about five different ways to cook kale.

Today when I went to pick up my loot, I was excited to see a sign that we are welcome to start picking shelling peas. (At our CSA, most of the vegetables are picked for us when we get there, and we go around the room and take a designated amount. But there are usually a few fruits or veggies that we are invited to pick ourselves — such as strawberries and peas.)

My kids love peas, and I have a hard time finding shelling peas at the regular grocery store around here. I grew up shelling peas with my mom and Gramma when we visited family in Maine every summer. While I’m not fond of the flavor or texture, my kids love them. Their favorite way to eat them is boiled and then served over potatoes in a warm cream sauce — it’s my Gramma’s method.

I was delighted to see the notice, and I quickly gathered the kids and tromped out to the far field where the peas are supposed to live.

The fields are not well marked, and it took me a while to find them. When I got there, I saw signs for sugar snap peas but no shelling peas. I’m sure someone more in touch with agriculture wouldn’t need signs, but the closest thing to a vegetable I’ve ever planted is a marigold.

It’s not that I’m stupid. Drop me in a shoe store, and I can tell you the Louboutins from the Blahniks without a blink. But when it comes to the varieties of pea, I’m hopeless.

Finally we gave up and hoofed it back to the shed with the rest of the shares. It’s a bit of a distance, I was too tired to go back out and felt too stupid to ask how to find the peas, so we came home without them.

We’ll make do. We have plenty, as you can see from the photo above. But I was so excited about the prospect of peas.

Maybe I should head over to Nordstrom tomorrow. I hear they’re having their semi-annual sale. I’m sure I’ll have better luck there.