Five Reasons to Join a CSA for Fall

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Everyone knows they should eat local. But when faced with a busy schedule and the convenience of the Publix produce aisle, it can be tough to commit to a locavore lifestyle.

But that's what CSAs are for. Community Supported Agriculture means someone else does your shopping for you and you're supporting local farmers. Now's the time to get on board with a fall share.

See also: Tastemakers: 16. Muriel Olivares of Little River Market Garden

Muriel Olivares and Tiffany Noé are the friendly farmers behind Little River Cooperative CSA. While the program is technically going into its fourth season, this year it's bringing some major changes to the efforts of these local purveyors. The two have officially joined forces, so there's room for new members, more produce, and more pick-up locations.

"This year joining with Tiffany is going to allow us to have more members," says Olivares. "We're expanding the fields, we're going to be growing more food. We've also decided to start buying produce from Verde Organic Farm in Homestead -- they produce really beautiful crops."

In addition, they've expanded to two pick up locations: The Upper East Side Farmer's Market on Saturdays and the Grove Green Market on Thursdays. "We'll have a pop-up nursery side to the booth and then a vegetable side to the booth," Olivares said.

And if you need additional incentive, here are five reasons to join their CSA for fall:

5. You'll learn a lot. Think of it as a crash course in local produce.

"A lot of CSA members have their own gardens. They buy plants from us and seek advice," Noé said.

4. You know where your money is going.

Forget buying foreign produce at the supermarket. Your CSA funds will stay in the community.

"I think there's a sense of pride there for a lot of people if you ask them. It's like, 'Yeah, I help support one of the only really local CSAs in town. I'm friends with that farmer.'" Noé said.

"We become friends with our members. We have potlucks at the farm and they bring dishes," Olivares adds.

3. You'll get introduced to exotic new produce (but still score plenty of traditional favorites).

Members can expect, "lots of greens, root veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, lots of radishes. And then we also have eggplant and tomatoes and peppers," Olivares said.

"We also pepper in weird tropical stuff like sugarcane, ginger, lemongrass, galangal, tamarind, bananas," says Noé. "Things that people don't usually have as much access to. We feel like that's a really strong plus -- you'll show up and get things you're familiar with, like kale and carrots, and then you'll get like, roselle, which is like this edible hibiscus pod that you make Jamaican Christmas drinks with."

2. You'll have kitchen support.

The CSA crew has expertise aplenty.

"On our website there's a blog portion so every week we would just post like what's in the share and pictures and links for other blogs that give recipes. The blog will be open to the public but I think it'll be particularly interesting to the members who are actually getting stuff," says Olivares.

"We're pretty aware, like, oh, we're going to give them this weird thing, we should tell them a little bit about it," adds Noé.

1. Someone else is doing the shopping for you.

"For a lot of [members] they actually join because they like not being the one who chooses what they're getting," says Olivares. "They like the surprise of every week being sort of forced to use vegetables they might not have chosen at the store. That breaks up the monotony for people -- people tend to get really stuck when they shop for vegetables. The supermarkets in Miami are very uninspiring."

When Noé was a CSA member in London, she says, she ended up with two cabbages (not a regular staple in her diet). By being forced to use them, she was initiated her into the world of sauerkraut. Now, it's in regular rotation on her menu.

"It just introduces new cooking inspiration into people's lives," Olivares said.

To join the Little River Cooperative CSA, check out their website at littlerivercooperative.com. They're now accepting new members for the fall CSA season, which kicks off in November. A small share (ideal for one person) runs $500 for the season, which includes 20 weeks of pick ups. A large share (ideal for a family of three) runs $640 for the season.

Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.

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