4 Helpful CSA Hacks

overcoming common challenges your weekly box of local produce presents

Julia van Allen, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Forest Street Community Gardens
Forest Street Community Gardens

Community Supported Agriculture shares, or CSAs, are spreading through the Chippewa Valley and bringing an abundance of delicious and healthy foods straight from farm to table. When you buy a share of a chunk of farmland, you receive a box of fresh produce every week during farming season. Unfortunately, there are a few struggles that CSA members fall into, but never fear! We’ve got your back with some solutions to these perennial CSA issues.


Is there ever such a problem as having too many greens? Yes, yes there is. What could one family possibly make with nearly 5 pounds of fresh kale? It might take a little creativity and patience, but there are recipes for this exact situation. Kale’s curly, leafy exterior shrinks up when cooked, so many recipes that require kale call for crazy amounts of this famed leafy green. Cold Sesame Noodles with Broccoli and Kale requires four cups of chopped kale leaves (and more if you want to feed more than four people). You won’t be drowning in leaves for long!


So you’ve received this week’s box of produce from your friendly neighborhood farmer, but the contents of this box look closer to a plant from an episode of Star Trek than anything that could possibly grow in Wisconsin. What do you do? One such alien vegetable is the ever-confusing kohlrabi. It’s a cousin of cabbage and cauliflower that looks like a lumpy baseball with impossibly slim shoots springing up everywhere. Not exactly the belle of the ball, but kohlrabi is a staple in many seasonal recipes. When raw, it’s crisp with a kick, but it can also be sauteed, pureed, roasted, and steamed. Roast some of that veggie up with spices to feed your fam!


Kids can be picky eaters, quickly tossing away the delicious pesto you spent the last 45 minutes preparing in favor of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets with a side of ranch ... it happens. Unfortunately this meal of choice doesn’t provide the necessary nutrients that growing kids need. Preparing food that kids will eat with the same zeal as their extinct faves seems like an impossible task, but it doesn’t have to be! Arugula Salad with Dates and Bacon mixes the perfect ingredients to mask the taste of healthy vegetables and fruits that the kids may not favor. This recipe combines the sweet taste of dates with crispy bacon to make arugula’s strong flavors more palatable for your youngsters.


Once you’ve created your latest culinary masterpiece out of this week’s CSA produce, you’ll find there’s some raw material left over. Stalks and shoots aren’t always as edible, or as tasty, as their leafy counterparts. There’s a simple solution for this problem: home composting. Composting returns raw materials to the earth and creates the perfect all-natural fertilizer for home gardens. Combining kitchen cuttings with shredded up newspaper, coffee grounds, and grass clippings (that haven’t been exposed to pesticides or herbicides) will create the perfect food source and home for worms and other insects that will break it all down and help the environment in the process. Your garden will thank you! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has lots of helpful tips online at epa.gov.