Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Full Circle Farms

I've been interested in Community Supported Agriculture(CSA) for a while now. There's a lot that goes into producing food, whether it's community based or on a global scale. I'm not one of those economist types, so I don't know what all goes into it and how each choice effects what,  but I like to think that screwing over little guys and growing bigger and badder E. coli O157:H7 isn't what I want to encourage with my purchases.

Just from a hedonistic standpoint not homogenizing all of our foods is a good thing. Don't you want different varieties? Flavors?   Sure, McDonald's makes a good salted, greasy tater wad, but that doesn't mean I only want access to the Russet Burbanks they use. Just saying.

So- back to CSAs. I've been interested in a while, but they've not been very accessible to me. Most of the ones around here require full payment of that year's share before the year even gets going. This is understandable, they've got to run the farm and it's a small business sort of thing; but it's not the sort of cash a paycheck-to-paycheck person like me has on hand.

A friend at work as been talking up Full Circle farms for a couple years now. Every day-before-payday she picks up a box and it's been fun hearing what she has coming and what she plans on doing with it - particularly with the weird stuff.

When she first started talking about it it wasn't something I could get into. Even though I would be able to pay bi-weekly I wasn't exactly prepared to haul my box through the rain and the 1.5 hours worth of busing. So I lived vicariously and didn't think much of FC or any other CSA except to encourage others to use them.

Until last month, that is.  I just happened to be nosing around the FC site and behold! They had a pick-up spot practically across the street from Mark's workplace.

I signed right up.

Today I got my first box. Two boxes, in fact, because I'd added on all sorts of extras.

Aside from that awesome pile of produce I got a box of Earl Grey with Lavender, a package of breakfast sausages from Heritage Meats, organic "for reals" cage free eggs, cider and a candy bar (also some beets and carrots.) These were all add-ons and I shouldn't do them often, but it was my first box, and I was a little over-excited.

Full Circle isn't necessarily a traditional CSA, and it says that right on the box.  Plenty in my order came from their own farm or other Washington state farms they source from. But those Tangelos and Mangos up there could never come from Washington. The tangelos (so good - so fragrant) came from California and the mangos from Peru.  

What they are doing at FC is growing over 400 acres of their own produce, and then sourcing additional product - all with the goal of sustainable, organic food.

The thing I've most enjoyed so far? One tiny nibble from an apple Mark was eating - a Cameo from Brewster Washington.

After moving from Eastern Washington (where I spent a sizable portion of my childhood at my grampa's -which happened to be smack in the middle of the apple orchard he managed) to Western Washington I gave up eating apples. One, I wasn't going to pay for them - nobody I grew up with paid for apples! And two - store bought apples are gross. They have a layer of wax and pesticides on them that no amount of Dawn will scrub off.

After a while I forgot the taste of a real apple. We bought them at the store for the boys' lunches, and once in a while I'd get a box from home and make pies or something, but even those had been processed and had their first layer of waxy grossness.

One day we were visiting the Public Market in Seattle and someone laid down a big slice of Honeycrisp apple on us. We all loved it, so we started buying them from the grocery store. They were still good. Well, they were still okay. They were shiny.

But the cameos we got today? They didn't shine. They weren't practically tap dancing for attention with a happy little sticker stapled to a waxy shell. No, these weren't those kind of apples.
They simply rested there, nestled in the produce basket in our garage (did they have a sort of quiet luster? Sure they did. My memory may have romanticized events just a little.)

As I was putting them away I didn't think much about them - I was excited for beets and pears - but Mark chomped into one right after we got home. He was having a really good time too -ker chomp ker chomp ker chewy chomp-  all but exclaiming that the snozzberries tasted like snozzberries. Then he offered me a bite.

I don't remember a lot about what will always be "grampa's orchard" but cameos weren't something he grew. Walking up the long driveway from the school bus there were Reds (yech) on one side and goldens (yum!) on the other, and I heard a lot of jabber about jonagolds and romes and granny smiths and winesaps, but never cameos. Right before my father stopped working there as their mechanic (which was shortly after some businessmen bought it from the old owners widow) they were ripping out trees by the acre to plant galas and fujis - weird tiny trees strung on wire that the businessmen purposely shorted on water to keep small and "marketable." Apparently they were big in Japan (what isn't?) but for me, for a lot of people in my family,  those trees marked the beginning of the end.

I refused to like those apples for years, just on principle.

But oh - This cameo was sweet and somewhat acidic and, and... Well really, it was just an apple.  But it had something else going on. There was this tiny hint of nuttiness underneath. It was just different and so, so good. So surprising. Also, my teeth didn't squeak against gross and waxy skin because there wasn't any (wax, I mean - it's not a magical skinless apple, though Max would be pleased if it were.)

When was the last time you tried something as humdrum and ordinary as an apple and were so pleasantly, deliciously surprised?  If it wasn't pretty recent, here's hoping it happens to you soon.

So there -I'm done pimping out Full Circle for now. I'll be getting a box every other week though, and as I struggle to adequately and purposefully use everything in my box I'm sure it'll ooze into the blog.

Hey, I'm all caught up on blogging!

Tomorrow I'll post about last Sunday - that's Sunday #10. Was it The Most Challenging Sunday Evar!?

We'll see.


  1. Your gift for words delights me every time you post. <3

  2. You have a great voice. Keep it up! I look forward to these. :)

  3. This may have been your best post to date... except there's no thumbs up from Simon and no "HAHA, I have prevailed!" look from Max. You did manage to add a "So there", even if it wasn't in your usual manner.

    I've also never heard of a CSA before, so you've broadened my horizons.