Dave and I are huge supporters of local agriculture. We try to avoid large commercial farm products as much as possible, we only buy meat from small local farms (including my grandpa!) and try to buy as much local produce as possible living in Alberta. Last year we joined a CSA program to further our support of local farmers.
A CSA or Community Supported Agriculture is where the consumer becomes a "shareholder" in a crop, typically with vegetable producers. The consumers pay up front for a share in the crop and then the shareholders receive weekly "dividend" payments in the form of baskets of produce through out the growing season. This way the producers recieve capital in the beginning of the season when they need it the most. The consumer shares the risk in the crop but is rewarded with local fresh produce.
We have signed up for our second year with the Noble Gardens CSA program. It is a family farm located near Lethbridge, Alberta. Despite the relatively poor growing season last year, we still recieved more vegetables than the two of us could eat! The baskets last year included everything from carrots, beets, corn, lettuce, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, rhubarb, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage to fresh herbs. Each week it is a surprise to see what you were going to receive - we were never disappointed - and it was a great opportunity to learn how to cook with new ingredients.
I can hardly wait to pick up our first basket this year!