I am suffering from CSA withdrawal. Until a few years ago I didn’t even know what CSA represented. Well, after reading an article in the local paper I learned about CSA and Hilltop Hanover Farm. I not only became a CSA member but also became a volunteer at Hilltop Hanover Farm on Hanover St., Yorktown Heights.
First, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. I have been one of the 120 families (100 last year) that enjoyed the opportunity to support the Hilltop Hanover Farm and receive in turn the freshest vegetables around. My wife and I would come each Tuesday afternoon from May through the beginning of October and select the vegetables of the week. We always brought two to three bags, for the choices and quantity required as much. The vegetables were picked each Tuesday morning and placed in huge containers in the farm room.
After checking in with the weekly volunteer, you would simply go around the room and follow the instructions for each vegetable selection. Some signs would say pick one or choose either kale or spinach. I especially enjoyed the variety of selections. The more traditional radishes, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and peppers were there, but also Bok Choy, purple top turnips, scallions, kale, broccoli rabe, and arugula. For one who was raised on steak and and potatoes, the challenge to try something different was at first daunting but then became quite enjoyable.
My wife’s culinary skills – which are exceptionable! – were put to the test with the help of recipes on the Hilltop Hanover Farms website or from advice offered by the farm volunteers.
The weekly vegetable booty was often shared with my daughter and my mother-in-law. We would spread the vegetables on the porch’s table and divide the weekly offerings. You certainly get the bang for your buck! For examples, in mud July each CSA member was able to bag ten pounds of tomatoes one week and 6.5 pounds the following week. We all know how great a fresh tomato tastes – especially one that was picked just a few hours before you indulged. My personal favorite was the fresh corn, which was unfortunately only available for one week. I have requested Brett Alcaro, the head farmer, to expand the corn crop but let’s see what happens.
I think the biggest pleasure of the weekly pick up was taking my 5-year-old grandson along a few times. I would show him the farm, visit the chicken coop and its roaming residents, and explain how these vegetables grow and also where eggs come from. Occasionally, you could pick the cherry tomatoes yourself or cut some wild flowers in the farm field. It’s pretty cool to watch your grandson cut flowers that he intends to give to his mom and grandmother. When away on vacation during the summer, my daughter or nieces and their children would enjoy visiting the farm and sharing the goodies for that week. I
n fact, my great nephew has already expressed a desire to be a summer volunteer for 2013. I think the star event each week was watching the HHF chickens roam about the property. I just heard from Lucille Munz, the Farm’s director, that they will be shortly joined by two donated nubian goats – named Bell and Jasmine.
Hilltop Hanover Farm is a great place to volunteer and/or become a CSA member. It is truly a crop farm and environmental educational center. In October alone, over 2,000 school children visited the Farm. One of the major goals of their visit is to instruct them and other children about the value of sustainable agriculture.
The cost for next summer’s share, which helps to subsidize visits by school children and the Farm’s expenses, will be $650. Keep in mind that by purchasing a share, you are allowed to select weekly vegetables from mid May through early October. Be sure to bring two to three strong bags for the freshest vegetables around! Visit the Farm’s website at www.hilltophanoverfarm.org or call the office at 962-2368 for more information.