Here at City Green we are committed to ensuring everyone has access to the fresh, nutritious produce they deserve. It's why we sustainably grow over 60,000 pounds of vegetables at the Farm Eco-Center and South Branch Preserve and distribute it to community members through our farm stands, Veggie Mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Yet for many seasons, our bountiful harvests were only available to customers until November. It was always bittersweet to end the season in the fall: members of our CSA program wanted to continue enjoying City Green’s fresh produce and our farm team had an abundance of crops left over from a successful season. We also recognized that accessing fresh produce during the winter months was an increased challenge for members of our community as farm stands and farmers' markets close for the season. Thus, the Winter CSA was born! Now in its second season, the Winter CSA has ensured members of our community can access nutritious, affordable, locally-grown produce each winter.
Growing fresh vegetables in New Jersey during the winter poses some challenges: with shorter days and cooler temperatures, plants can’t gather the nutrients they need to grow. But our farm team is innovative: by strategically allocating our storage crops, growing winter veggies in our high tunnels, and harvesting fresh microgreens, we’re able to provide fresh produce to our community during a time when it's otherwise difficult to find.
We provide members of our Winter CSA with veggies like winter squash, carrots, and potatoes that were harvested from our farms during the fall and are stored in the City Green farmhouse. These vegetables are commonly known as “storage crops” because of their ability to stay fresh for long periods of time. We begin planning our Winter CSA menu as early as October to ensure we’re growing enough of these crops for our final fall markets as well as the Winter CSA. In addition to these veggies, members of our Winter CSA also take home fresh vegetables like arugula, celery, kale, and spinach grown in our high tunnels and microgreens that we grow indoors.
The Winter CSA provides customers with supplemental items from local businesses as well. Fresh produce at this point in the season is less diverse than what is available in the spring and summer, so providing supplemental items offers something new and exciting for our members as well as a spotlight for a local small business. Supplemental items often include freshly baked bread from Le French Dad based in Montclair and a variety of mushrooms from Amazing Fungi and Greens.
Our Winter CSA program also extends the availability of Good Food Bucks, City Green’s SNAP Nutrition Incentive Program. Every time a customer spends $1 of their SNAP benefits through our CSA program, at the City Green farm stand and Veggie Mobile, or at other participating markets and farm stands, they receive an additional $1 in Good Food Bucks. Many of our Good Food Bucks partner sites close for the winter, and by offering our Winter CSA members of our community are able to participate in the program all year long.
Want to learn more about how City Green’s Winter CSA program? Follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for even more information on what our farm team is doing this winter. If you have any questions about City Green’s CSA program, please comment down below! Our Market Manager, Alex Careolo, will be happy to get back to you.
City Green is a 501(c)3 urban farming and gardening organization based in Clifton, New Jersey working to foster connections between communities, agriculture, and the environment. For more information about City Green, visitwww.citygreenonline.org.