Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a simple concept that allows consumers to buy local, seasonal and fresh produce directly from farmers. I have been doing it for years without knowing it had a label… :) At any rate, a couple of weeks ago, Gejo of Kitchen Herbs Farm asked if I would like to try a weekly or bi-weekly (every other week) delivery of greens, and of course I agreed. Nothing like getting the freshest stuff available, and I don’t mind at all that I have no clue what might show up one week to the next. This is the only REAL way to help small farmers; to eat what is in season rather than whatever a grocery, wholesalers, large importers, farm conglomerates choose to make available. In last Friday’s “basket” or box (this is in its nascent stages and just being tested, hence improvements to delivery containers, packing, etc.) there was a huge bounty of stuff ranging from chard, to tons of lettuce, dill, a single fennel bulb, tomatoes, onions, chicory, sage, basil, curry leaves, sprouts, carrots, peppers, etc. (all in the third photo below).
The week before we got a slightly different selection but still anchored on lettuces, herbs, etc. It was wonderful. Admittedly, a bit much for us if we don’t eat at home everyday or are traveling to Cebu. But I love the concept and relish the arrival of the weeks “stuff”. I was here last Friday when the veggies got to our home, and immediately “triaged the box”. Lettuces were washed, dried, mixed and stored in the fridge, ready for several large salads over the next few days. We immediately pickled the baby carrots as our pickle selection is waning. They will be terrific for at least the next two weeks, served with grilled fish or meats or just simply to munch on when you get a bit hungry. We also turned the bounty of basil into a walnut basil pesto that I used on some potatoes that evening and stored the rest for a pasta dish later in the week. And we immediately cooked the chard, recipe coming up soon.
I pick this box up from the parking lot at Greenbelt mall, where Gejo does deliveries for restaurants and other customers. He will probably kill me for posting this so soon after he has started testing this CSA concept, but if you are interested you may want to contact him and BEG him to include you on the list. I can’t guarantee he will take many more clients at this nascent stage, however. All his greens and herbs are organically raised, and I have featured his farm in Silang before, and went to it for the Jessica Soho feature a few months back. You may want to split one of his boxes with a friend, neighbor or family member. At PHP750 a week for my box, I suspect a PHP500 box would work well for folks who don’t cook as much as we do in our home.
Contact Gejo at firstname.lastname@example.org
This has been happening in Europe for some time. If you’re a fan of Nigel Slater (I am, because his writing is so low key but so good) he’s been writing about his CSA box in various books and articles, although he’s also going into his own gardening in his own back yard for a while. The thing is the European winter can be a very sad period (tubers, cabbage – the challenge with what to do with nothing but those for weeks) whereas in the Philippines’ tropical climate, seasons do exist but there should be good stuff all year round. I’ll be interested to see what you do around the year MM – I think the challenge there is to keep the stuff fresh and vibrant in the heat!
There’s another farm based in Bukidnon that does this as well. Check out http://www.mypersonalfarmer.net or call 0918-9143759 and look for Donna. I am not connected with them in any way, just a satisfied customer. :)
Hi MM, Since you have curry leaves you may want to try a few famous Singapore recipe on that. Singapore Laksa https://www.grouprecipes.com/7109/nonya-laksa.html or crispy prawn oats https://www.qbb.sg/recipes.php?id=144
Enjoy your bounty !!!
There’s also someone who sells herbs on Sundays right next to your Zubuchon outlet in BTC.
Our yaya would always pack our veggies in brown paper bags or in newspaper before storing them in the fridge- she claims it helps retain their freshness, as opposed to storing them in plastic bags. I wonder if there is any truth to that? I noticed that in your photo, some veggies are in paper bags, and some in plastic– is there a reason behind this? Or simply convenience?
I do this too with a farmer in Bulacan…love getting my bi-weekly “basket” :) Right now he has started with monggo which I am loving! It is definitely my preferred way to get veggies. And I actually like not knowing what exactly I will be getting :)
I like the idea of eating local for its many advantages: the freshness of produce , knowing the source, supporting the local growers, carbon emission concerns, etc.
For the locavores, here is an interesting article with issues to think about:
So, Footloose, my carbon emission to travel to ‘Pins to get my ultra fresh camote tops, kangkong, etc. besides being in a warmer clime may not matter much after all. Hmmmm.
But eating local is still a very good practice and lessening our meat consumption makes better sense.
The packaging looks pretty good. It looks neat, the vegetables are easily identifiable and it’s simple.
To Meekerz: I agree with your yaya though it’s more of an instinct than me knowing it for a scientific fact. My theory is that the vegetables are still alive and respiring, so you also want your bag to also be breathable so as not to trap moisture and putrefy the vegetables. I think in the picture, some of the paper bands were just disproportionately larger than the produce they’re holding together.
as a big farmer’s market fan, I wish there will soon be a very vibrant locavore/CSA scene all throughout the Philippines similar to that in Europe and the US. oh and i can’t wait for the chard recipe as it’s one of my absolute favorite greens.
Hi Connie C! My family and I were very fortunate to somehow get a farm tour of Aloha Farms in Palawan – fortunate because we did not arrange for the visit/farm tour, but just showed up there.
Aloha Farms is fantastic! Keith Mikkelson is quite a guy – he showed us around himself. There’s just so much going on in Aloha – produce, livestock, even fish – quite an integrated natural farm operation.
Thanks for the tip! And ,oh, the rest of the Palawan trip was wonderful!
Thanks for sharing the article. May I add another aspect that applies very much to the Philippines, and I suppose to many other developing countries as well. The idea of buying local produce( and by “local” in sustainable agri terms, isn’t the general guideline “grown within 150 kilometers of the point of purchase”? Is this correct?) is quite compelling for the reasons you already mentioned – freshness, knowing the grower, smaller carbon footprint. etc. But in the Philippines, there is another major factor. Economic development, resources, purchasing power is so concentrated in the urban areas, and especially in Metro Manila, that, as it is, a huge % of produce grown in Luzon alone is shipped to Metro Manila (an astounding 90%, in fact, if I remember correctly), simply because there is a bigger market there, and goods can be sold in bigger quantities and higher prices. The same happens in a lesser degree to other urban centers in the country.
So this means that farmers who are situated far from urban centers have very little choice but to sell their produce either directly to places like Metro Manila, or to traders who eventually sell the produce to Metro Manila. Otherwise, they’ll probably have to sell to the local area at very low prices, hence much less profits, if at all ( for seasonal produce, high productivity may not necessarily result in higher profits, since gluts push down prices on what are very perishable products). So aside from the economic, social, cultural and geographic obstacles, there is the political obstacle – the political structure of the Philippines favors “imperial” Manila, and agricultural produce gravitate towards this socio-economic and political center.
This is one great way to get your greens and eat them fresh too! I’d love to try this. I also remember seeing another couple who does this and pack organic, seasonal produce too and send them to their clients. Thanks for the info MM!
I small children’s christian ministry in Pinas, base mostly in Quezon, and so I visit every May. These last few years, I have been giving away veggies seeds to neighbors and team with instructions to plant them in time that at my visit the harvest will be, and so I get to purchase from them. Most of the time ibinibigay na lang as appreciation. Yung iba naman na hindi ko nabigyan ng seeds, they deliver their own harvest parang sigurado na raw na customer ako; same with fish, and taho… hahahah.. they know when I am coming and they sell me their home made products, which I am delighted, hindi na kailangang mamalengke pa ako. Also with the pig and chickens, sariling katay, so I know its really good products.
I had just watched 24-Oras show and gosh they are featuring not only Botcha but also the imported frozen meat sold at Divisoria. Nakaka-rattle – makes me feel I don’t want to buy pork from sino-sino. I have to make sure sariling pa-alaga ang mga meat ko. You can control the feed and the care.
HI Gej, glad you had a fun time in Palawan.I am so lucky that Aloha is just uphill from me.
You are so right about the better produce going to the the bigger market, where the growers prompted by greater profitability take their products as most people can pay the better price. In the US, a land of plenty, it is ironic that there are food desserts usually in low income areas where vegetables and fruits are not available contributing to obesity and unhealthy eating and its consequences, a tremendous public health problem. Think of all the people with metabolic syndromes the health care industry has to deal with and especially among the 40 million uninsured ?
That will be the day when farmers can get some kind of government subsidy to make their activity sustainable and their produce more accessible to the general populace.
In Puerto Princesa, a local government initiative to encourage coopertive and organic farming has resulted in bounty produceand more local food production with better affordability to the local communities.
Every little bit counts. Oftentimes even just the thought and consideration matters. If everyone living along a waterway leading to Manila Bay realizes that disposing of his night soil into a river close by conveys his excrement into the bay and feeds the fish that thrives there which he then catches and eats, why we shall all soon enjoy a cleaner body of water instead of the open sewer that it is now. Every little thing we do that plays fast and loose with the nitrogen cycle or degrades the environment is the equivalent of peeing into our own punch bowl.
OOps, between carbon emission, carbon imprint, carbon footprint and more typos and increasing grammar/spelling mistakes, the holes in my aging brain seem to be getting larger, and I cannot blame a wrist or shoulder problem like bettyQ. I beg your indulgence.
Don’t worry, piddly mistakes are inevitable when writing blog comments, it is not as if it’s going to heap infamy on us. We do not earn our living writing.
Very glad to hear this is catching on in other parts of the world. We have CSA members for the past ~20 years (now that makes me both quite proud but also feeling rather a bit greyer!). It is considerably pricier to do so on the East coast than it was back home in California but it’s worth doing so regardless. With CSAs you are “buying stock” in the farm, so to speak, so it is money up front–usually a lump sum payment at the beginning of the growing year, or sometimes installments–and you get back a share of whatever the farmer manages to grow. You’re providing money up front for the farmer to use to buy seed, supplies, pay for labour, etc. It keeps money in the community and hopefully helps to preserve local agriculture in your area. And a huge part of the pleasure is receiving the box and figuring out what to do with the produce, especially if you get something that you might not on your own have purchased otherwise!
I am fairly new to the world of cooking and just when I started enjoy the wonders of herbs and spices, I realized that I’d be paying a lot for these commercial herbs and spices if I’d be buying them from the supermarket. A cheaper and better way would be to grow my own herb garden! :)
I got some seeds from a local Shopwise Supermarket here in Antipolo and although the seed packets looked like they’ve been sitting in the rack for a long time, the lemon basil, thyme, parsley and cherry tomatoes started pretty well when I planted them (well, aside from the chinese chives seeds which I doubt, has gone bad – I was only able to sprout one little seedling from a whole packet).
Starting a little herb garden doesn’t really take so much space, in fact, it can be a windowsill or a pot just outside your doorstep, as long as it’s getting 4-6 hours of sunlight everyday, then they’d be thriving well. I’d recommend this to everybody…Our own little way of living a greener and healthier lifestyle.
@Gej: Hello. I emailed you as soon as I read this article. I have been very very GREEN reading about CSA-ing by my friends in the US. I just had to give it a shot =)
@joey: is your current farmer the same one you mentioned in your blog with the bounty of tomatoes that sadly had to nap in the fridge as you would be going on a trip?
My daughter in Toronto–a vegetarian–gets all her veggies for $35 (canadian) a week from an organic supplier. She does not know what’s is the box until it’s delivered–and she loves it! Glad it’s being done here already MM…
Hi Kassiopeia. Glad you are interested. However, I have not received an e-mail from you yet, it seems.
Hi MM. you mentioned pickling carrots, can I pls. have the recipe? Thanks
is that a medusa pepper there?
We have the same concept here. It’s good to know that it’s being offered there as well. Nothing beats fresh produce. He may want to do home deliveries for an added fee as well. This way it’ll be more enticing.
Does anyone know if they do this delivery thing in Cebu… deliver close to the town Liloan?
Possibly with similar dark green vegetables. You can email me at email@example.com. Thanks in advance! :-)
It is really nice and safe To eat organic produce, I am also an organic farmer here in Mendez, cavite just started two months to be exact. All veggies I produce here are purely organic and I even made my own organic fertilizers extracted from the fruits and plants that are available inside my farm. I like the idea Of his pack of veggies in basket/ box, and your write ups about us helping small farmers to sell our produce, wish you can visit my farm someday and show you how I raise my veggies, pack for my delivery and show my new concept of introducing fresh vegetables and herbs that I am developing now, and let you taste my hot wild ginger concoction (salabat) with some herbs that smell terrific and inviting,
Thanks and take care,
@Remus: Do you sell organic products? can you give me your contact details. thanks
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