Farm Baskets Are Back Again

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A box of delicious fruits and vegetables at uOttawa as part of their community supported Agriculture project.

For those who have their own small garden plots, me included, the growing season is just getting started. But I want my fruits and veggies now, because I am spoiled and various other reasons that we don't have to get into. So lucky for me, I am signed up for a CSA (community supported Agriculture) at the University of Ottawa.

I've already covered the uOttawa Farm Basket Program in another post but here is a brief summary just in case you missed it. A CSA is at its core a special contract with a farmer. Instead of paying for fruits and vegetables at the market, you pay for them before they are planted and they are delivered to you as they are ready. You share the risk with the farmer, but you also share the savings.

This is the third year that the program will operate at uOttawa with the cooperation of Health Promotions and Food Services. The reason we got involved and brought the program on campus was pure convenience. We figured that if we make healthy food easier for you buy then you might buy more of it. And since we all come to the campus anyways, you can just pick up your basket while you are here.

Weekly Farm Box emails are sent to participants of the program

The farm we work with at uOttawa, Ferme aux pleines saveurs, is really awesome. I am super keen on these guys. Every week they send me a list of all the things I am going to get in my basket. They send me a reminder the day before (so I can remember to bring my reusable bags), and another when my basket has arrived (technically it is the awesome people over at Health Promotions who do this part but it all feels very seamless).

Each week I also get special recipes specifically for the vegetables I am getting, and they tend to focus on the non-conventional vegetables that they offer from time to time (like Kohlrabi or parsnips). And every one and a while they toss in a couple of prepared items (like salsa, zucchini bread, and jams). I have even gotten bags of purposefully grouped items that are basically ready to mix and serve (like make your own pesto or make your own soups).

Aside from the very selfish reasons that I am involved with the uOttawa CSA, there are a couple of reasons why you should get involved and why it is a sustainable choice.
  • It is cheap!
    Of course this is a relative statement but you find find organic vegetables for this price at the stores... in some cases you wouldn't find normal vegetables at the grocery store for this price. Each week, your basket of vegetables comes with a list of the prices of each item.
  • It is organic!
    Farm basket programs aren't hard to find, but this farm is certified organic. They work with Equiterre to ensure that there products meet all the standards of the "Quebec vrai" program.
  • They are local!
    The farm is located exactly 1 hour away from the uOttawa, 90.3 kilometers to be exact. So all the good stuff that comes along with supporting your local economy applies here.
  • The food is fresh!
    It don't just mean fresh, I mean fresh! The vegetables are picked that morning and are in your hands by noon. I don't know if you have had the pleasure of eating something straight from the field but you have to give it a try.
  • It helps combat food deserts!
    You might not be familiar with this term but the concept is simple. Food deserts are urban areas where it's difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. Reducing the barriers to food security make the entire community better.
So if you are interested in joining the program, you can sign up for a basket on the website. You don't have to commit fully to the program, you can grab a couple of baskets and see if they fit your life. Check our their harvest calendar to get an idea of a time that might interest you.
Otherwise, drop by the Health Promotions Office on campus and talk to the staff about the program. 

~jON - campus sustainability manager

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