As we all step into 2022 with hopes for eating and living healthy, we want to take a brief moment to reflect on 2021 and all that we were able to do at Tucson CSA with your support.
It was another tough year for so many of us, including our producers who continued to deal with a number of different pandemic challenges and increased community demand for locally sourced quality food. We are so grateful to all of our producers for their dedication and perseverance and to our members who have stuck with us through some tight times.
We welcomed Blanrock Farm as our new micro-green producer after a long hiatus from having this share option. You can still add micro-greens to your share at any time – just check out our FAQ page for a quick refresher on how to do that. We’ve also been exploring new relationships with a number of Southern Arizona producers who are looking for stable markets like CSAs during these volatile times. While we remain committed to our principal suppliers, Crooked Sky Farm and Sleeping Frog Farm, we have been grateful to be able to work with Merchant’s Garden to source tender, sweet aquaponic lettuce to supplement our shares during the spring and fall seasonal transition, which can be difficult for traditional farms. This past year we also worked with Arevalos Farm, Mission Gardens, Iskashitaa Refugee Harvesting Network and Aravaipa Orchards to round out our shares and hope to continue to source fruit and other specialty crops from them in the new year.
We are so very grateful for our new partnership with Imago Dei Middle School through our Beyond the Pantry program – we were able to supply fresh local produce bags to 30 families almost every week in 2021!
Tucson CSA gained approval to accept SNAP/EBT for all eligible food items in our CSA Shop and even launched the Arizona Double UP Food Bucks program in late 2021 to enable SNAP members to now use their EBT cards to purchase 6-week subscriptions of local produce! Help us spread the word and read more on the program.
And in times of continued great need in our community, we are proud to have donated over $8,000 worth of excess fresh produce to Tucson Food Share in 2021.
As we start back up in 2022 we are eager to get back to our “old ways” that have been so central to how we build community and engage our members at Tucson CSA. Starting in January, you will have the option of “picking your own produce” back again for the first time since March 2020.
While we are far from “out” of the pandemic, we do recognize that we all can take precautions and have patience to bring this important piece of community-building back into your outdoor pick-up experience.
Here is how we will be setting this up:
- Pre-packed bags will still be available for a quick pick-up throughout our 4pm – 7pm open hours, just let the volunteer know that you prefer to grab a pre-packed bag when you sign in.
- PLEASE have extra patience if you arrive between 4pm – 4:30pm and remember that we ask that ALL wear masks during this time! If you can come later, please do so! This is our busiest time and we want to keep you all safe!
- Please give space to members in front and behind you in line as you pick each item up from its crate.
- If you opt to pick your own produce we ask that you bring a reusable bag to pack your share into.
- Choose with your eyes first, and your hands second to limit excessive handling of delicate produce and please avoid the temptation to dig through bins. Producers try their hardest to ensure that bunches, bags and pieces are of a similar size and quality and volunteers monitor the bins to cull anything damaged. If you do grab something subpar that we missed, please hand it to one of the volunteers so we can take it out of circulation and you can get a different item.
- Ask questions of our volunteers! We miss getting to engage you in brief conversations about recipes, storage, and more and we always love to hear what successes you are having in the kitchen.
Again, we ask that you be patient, limit crowding, and ENJOY getting to pick your own share (and identify each item as you go down the line!) as we shift back to our hands-on community ways. We are looking forward to another year together with you!