For anyone who's into fresh food or locally grown produce, community-supported agriculture is a godsend. Benefitting both farms and consumers, it is the locavore's solution to corporate farming.
Now, one of Miami's most notable farms has introduced a twist on the traditional CSA: a restaurant-focused program. Dubbed a "Chef Share," Little River Cooperative is introducing the seasonal option, which offers a larger amount of produce for culinarians who want to plan menu items around South Florida's growing season.
"We created the chef CSA as a response to all of the requests for produce that we get through the season from chefs all over town who are looking for fresh local product," says Tiffany Noé, co-owner of Little River along with Muriel Olivares. "Despite having an agricultural district nearby (Homestead) Miami is pretty lacking in diverse farms growing organic produce for the local market, so we can’t grow anywhere near enough food for all of the current demand, especially from chefs who are inspired by our unique tropical seasons and the growing farm to table movement."
She adds that the program is an ideal way to get used to South Florida's actual growing season and learn what flourishes in our unusual weather, that way, chefs can cook with the local seasons instead of following national trends.
"The idea came to us one day while we were working at the farm, and brainstorming ways to be able to sell to more of the chefs who wanted produce, and then we did a bit of research and realized that it's not a new idea and a handful of CSA farms around the country offer similar programs," says Noé. "We are so excited about growing for the chefs that have signed up and seeing what they create with our harvest!"
The number of slots for the program is limited, as the farm can only grow so much produce. But there are still slots available, says Noé.
"We also think it's a good plan for private chefs and catering companies who are looking to add local produce to their offerings," she explains. "We really want to use this program as a way to give more and more chefs access to local food so we’re pushing our limits in terms of how much we can grow, plus we will be supplementing with goods from other local farms, like French Farms in Homestead that grows lots of colorful carrots, broccoli, romanesco, and the best lettuce we have found so far, and LNB Groves who specializes in organic tropical fruits."
The program is $1,200, and produce is delivered to the restaurant or home weekly from December through February. So what would a Chef Share include? Obviously it will change based on the week, but Little River offers this example:
- 5 bunches of fresh greens
- 3 bunches of carrots
- 5 pounds of Thai eggplants
- 4 bunches purslane
- 2 pounds of mixed baby green and red veined sorrel
- 2 bunches of lemongrass
- 6 grapefruit
- 5 bunches of herbs
- 1 clam shell mixed edible flowers
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"Each chef that participates in the CSA is going to receive a weekly delivery fresh from the farm (most likely delivered by a farmer, Muriel or Tiffany) that will also include basic information about all of the ingredients they have received, especially the ones that they may not be familiar with," explains Noé. "Produce deliveries will include traditional veggies like kale, romanesco, baby greens, heirloom tomatoes, and multicolored carrots and it will also include things we know chefs, in particular, are more interested in like edible flowers, red veined sorrel, fresh herbs, and unique tropical ingredients like fresh ginger root, starfruit, purslane, and loquats."
Just imagine what those ingredients would look like on a menu.
Little River CSA is accepting new members through October. You can learn more and sign up at littlerivercooperative.com.