My CSA Experience at Amber Waves Farm

published Sep 6, 2014
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(Image credit: Mallory Samson)

This is my 5th year living on Long Island’s East End, where the abundance of local vegetables, fruits, flowers, honey is incredible – with farm stands and farmers markets providing the community with the freshest ingredients all season long.

But this is my first season where I’m more than just a “shopper” and have become part of a farm – joining as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) member at Amber Waves Farm.

On the menu this week: kale (Image credit: Mallory Samson)

What Is a CSA?

Being a CSA member is a wonderful way to support your local farmers – and provides a little certainty to what can be a very uncertain endeavor. Everything from the weather, pests and disease can change a farm’s abundance in a moment. CSA members help by purchasing a “share” in the season’s produce early on, providing capital and commitment to their farmers.

As part of the Amber Waves Farm community, it has reminded me how food is such an important part of our lives — and how lucky we are to live in this beautiful place.

Members enjoy the herb garden. (Image credit: Mallory Samson)

The CSA Experience

This is a commitment: each Saturday I drive 45 minutes to the farm – rising early and taking the back roads to avoid traffic (even at 7am!). But being there is like being with family — social, familial, with children all around. I often find myself spending the morning walking through the flower fields, checking out the raspberry patch or simply swinging on the swings hanging from the maple tree.

CSA boxes get more colorful as the season progresses. (Image credit: Mallory Samson)

When you arrive, the blackboard greets you with what you can expect in your CSA box, including a “U-pick” selection that could include flowers, veggies, and herbs. A beautifully arranged box awaits you – rustic in nature, wooden boxes with rope handles but made with loving care. The box is a gift from the farm and always a surprise.

Bread and fruit shares ready for pick up. (Image credit: Mallory Samson)
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Welcome to Amber Waves Farm. (Image credit: Mallory Samson)

CSA Partnerships

You can also add fruit, cheese, and/or bread to your share – with wonderful partnerships with local fruit farms (Briermere), dairies (Mecox Bay), and a baker (Carissa’s Breads). The farm has also partnered with a new concept on the East End – Community Supported Fisheries – through Dock to Dish to provide fresh fish on a weekly basis. The catch of the week is always a surprise.

Amanda selecting zucchini and eggplant. (Image credit: Mallory Samson)

During the 20-week season, from late May ‘til Columbus Day weekend, the share boxes are crafted by Katie and Amanda and their apprentices – I arrived early one morning to observe the prep – their super organization made the “crafting” of the boxes seem so easy, calm even.

A weekly email from the farm also lets you know what to expect, and includes recipes and tips to help you make the most of the seasonal gifts.

Strawberries (Image credit: Mallory Samson)

I’ve had a wonderful time incorporating many new flavors in the kitchen, including garlic scapes, okra and hot peppers — all new for me this year and simply delicious. I feel fortunate to share my summer with Katie and Amanda.

A New Generation on the Farm is a season-long exploration of the work at Amber Waves Farm, and it is a partnership between The Kitchn, photographer Mallory Samson, and the Peconic Land Trust. Founded in 1983, the Peconic Land Trust conserves Long Island’s working farms, natural lands, and heritage. This is the first in a series about first generation farmers the Trust is working with to ensure that protected farmland is used for farming on Long Island’s East End.