A few people noticed that the Minneola Tangelos in last week’s boxes were not exactly local — they came all the way from Oceanside in San Diego county. For many years, we had our own Tangelo orchard that we tended but it fell victim to the drought when the well failed in midsummer 2014. Last year we bought some very local Tangelos from another Yolo County farm, but they didn’t have any for us this year. And most farms in our area who grow citrus had a short crop of Navel Oranges this year.
So despite the fact that is is technically still orange season, there are no local organic oranges around for us to put in your boxes. We still have a heavy crop of grapefruit on the trees, but we are well aware that those are not as universally loved as their orange cousins.
Am I making excuses for us buying delicious organic citrus from 700 miles away? Maybe. Why should we put Tangelos in your boxes but not avocadoes as well — they grow in the same region, afterall?
It’s not impossible to grow avocadoes in Yolo and Solano Counties, but no one is growing them commercially, yet. (Maybe give climate change another 10 years.) For that reason it doesn’t seem appropriate for us to put them in your boxes. Does that logic make sense?
In other parts of the U.S., CSA farmers have a much narrower range of crops that they can grow, and that their subscribers can expect to find in their boxes. When the first CSAs started in U.S., members expected only to receive whatever their farm was able to produce. If that meant just three or four items in a certain week, then so be it.
Decades later, as a CSA farm in bountiful California, we are aware that there are any number of other options for getting fresh, local organic produce. So we try keep your boxes both full and diverse, with a range of fresh produce from our farm in reasonable quantities.
Spring is always the hardest time of year for us to achieve this goal, March and April in particular. Winter crops are finishing, there is little fresh fruit coming out of the fields, and spring crops have not matured yet. Last year was a textbook example, as the weather gave us no opportunity to plant spring crops during the winter and few chances to plant even our summer crops.
In 2018, Spring will be very different. This year our fields are already brimming with crops on the verge of harvest: Snap and English peas;carrots and beets; new kale, lettuce, spinach and arugula.
But we’re not quite there yet this week. So you’ll notice three “outsourced” items in the boxes. As April transitions into May, there will be fewer items from other farmers. But they will all come from closer than Oceanside…except for one more round of those delicious Tangelos.