Avalon Acres CSA

Every Sunday I head over to meet this rather unassuming little truck in the parking lot of the Eastwood Christian Church in East Nashville. Nothing shady is going on but the goodness that comes from the back of the truck might just be borderline illegal!

The Husband and I had never heard of, much less participated in, a CSA until we returned to Nashville back in 2008. Then we split a share from Delvin Farms that we picked up weekly and divvied up amongst the two of us, my sister-in-law and our friend JG. We learned rather quickly that splitting a share amongst four people became a tedious endeavor. [Who wants 1/4 of a cabbage? Or more often it was who’ll take all the beets so the rest of us can get the stuff we’d actually eat?]

Once we settled in East Nashville we considered re-upping with Delvin but weren’t ready to commit to having a mid-week pick-up given our job situations at the time. We learned about Avalon Acres from one of my sweet betweens customers and decided to try it out once we saw they delivered around the corner on the weekends.

Since we’ve gone paleo, we decided to do a full produce share along with a meat variety and an egg share. Just last week this is what we scored for our produce for the week alone :

Our take-home includes : green bell peppers [3], carrots [1 bunch], yellow onion, tomatoes [5], butternut squash, sweet potatoes [2 medium, 2 mini], cucumber, garnet okra [small pile], cantaloupe, green beans [giant heaping pile], summer squash [4], okra [giant heaping pile]. This box was definitely on the more full end of the spectrum. Avalon warns you in advance that the fullness of your box will vary from week to week depending on harvest conditions at the time they prep for your pick-up. We’ve never opened our box and thought “man, this is definitely not enough veg for our week!”.

Look at this giant heaping pile of green beans :

I’ll be researching some fun paleo-friendly green bean recipes as I think I’m over our go-to stir-fry/saute for now. Do you have any favorite ways to prepare green beans? Please share!

And take a look at this giant heaping pile of okra:

Luckily we’re huge fans of dry-roasted okra in this house [simply rinse + thoroughly dry the okra – broil on high for 15-20 minutes, tossing okra about halfway through]. I think we’re going to try Lesley’s Okra “Fries” this week to change things up a bit.

I can’t get over the bright red color of the garnet okra, so it had to have its own little moment in the spotlight. [As far as I can tell, it doesn’t taste any different from regular green okra, but man is it a beauty!]

In terms of variety, in the past few weeks we’ve also received : lemon basil, dill, red potatoes, garlic, small pie pumpkins, watermelon, blackberries, jelly melon [now that was a new taste adventure!], cherry tomatoes, pattypan squash, corn, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, japanese eggplants and cabbage. No excuse for boredom when it comes to meal-planning at Casa sweet betweens!

We currently get a dozen eggs, but we usually go through them [thanks to delicious breakfasts like these Paleo coconut-apple-almond egg muffins] before the week is out. Thankfully, we’re part of a neighborhood chicken coop co-op of sorts, so come November we’ll be gathering our own 1-1 1/2 dozen eggs each week. [will be sharing a post on that soon enough!] At that point we’ll probably re-evaluate the need to source our eggs from a CSA.

I’ll wrap up the post at this point but will share a picture of our protein pick-up below [vegetarians, vegans, the generally squeamish can cut out at the end of this paragraph!]. Overall we’ve had a great experience – after working out some kinks on the front end regarding our weekly bank draft, everything’s been smooth sailing. When stored properly, we have produce through [and sometimes even past] our next pick-up. The CSA package as it currently stands accounts for about 2/3rds of our weekly grocery budget. We’ve on occasion had to go to the grocery store or the East Nashville Farmers Market to pick up some more protein or veg to tide us over but we’ve yet to go over our allotted weekly budget in doing so. We’re now beginning to think about continuing on with Avalon through their winter CSA program. What’s most appealing about it is that you will receive canned or frozen produce from this or last years peak harvest. Mainly what I’m saying is – corn! tomatoes! in the WINTER! If we do continue the CSA, I’ll be sure to update this post with an update on our winter experience.

Do you participate in a CSA where you live? Or do you have a favorite vendor at your local farmer’s market? I’d love to know!

xo,

@

PS – y’all should check out In Her Chucks who hosts a weekly link-up of CSA hauls in case you need some more fuel in the to-CSA or not-to-CSA argument! [http://inherchucks.com/2012/08/30/whats-in-the-box-41/]

**veg*ns, beware – photo of our protein haul below. end of post, so feel free to skip out!** When  you sign up for a meat share with Avalon you can choose to have all beef, all chicken or all pork or do a variety of all three with a heavier focus on one type of protein. This week we picked up –

10 smoked pork sausage links [we’ve had the bratwurst and Italian style before, so these smoked versions are new! we’re looking forward to trying them out.] and 4 chicken thigh/leg pieces. So far we’ve received ground beef, ground pork, whole broiler chickens, pork chops and also added on strip steak and rib eye steak for some bonus treats.

10 comments
  1. Great write up! I’ve been doing a CSA now for 6 years now. The first 2 or 3 years (I can’t remember!) I did Avalon and I LOVED their meat! I have since switched to Delvin, (mainly for pickup date & location reasons) and I’m really loving it. Either way, participating in a CSA has really changed the way I cook, for the better. :)

    • I agree – a CSA share has definitely forced me to be less recipe-dependent and improvise, which has seen my savory cooking skills get better over time. [I won’t hesitate to whip up a sweet/baked good but used to fear making something for dinner w/out a recipe]. Some recent developments, however, have us already researching alternative CSA options for next season. Eager to try something new! :)

  2. Yum! Every year I think I’ll join a CSA, but every year I balk at the last minute + just continue getting produce at the Farmer’s Markets. May have actually change that next year – this stuff looks great!

  3. Melissa said:

    Love the photo of your veg! I have a crazy amount of green beans in my CSA too, I usually just steam them with some chopped garlic and add butter at the end. Can’t go wrong with butter. But I’ve been wanting to try something different. These looks good to try!

    Bean Salad with a green chilie coconut cream sauce with cilantro!
    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/yellow-bean-salad-recipe.html

    Green beans with Leeks
    http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/vibrant-tasty-green-beans-recipe.html

    Mmmm and loving the sound of those green beans with bacon in the comments, yum!

    • Wow, thanks so much for the green bean recipe recommendations! Now I’m at the point where I’m hoping we continue to get more beans for the next few weeks so I can try them all!

  4. Kaitlin said:

    WOW! I think this post sold me on signing up for a CSA next year. I’ve casually browsed way too many of them in my area and always just end up saying “I’ll go to the farmer’s markets.” Which I DO. But I want this experience, too!

    Also, a neighborhood egg co-op?! So jealous! That’s one thing I always buy at the farmer’s market, or sometimes am lucky enough to score from friends with chicks. The difference in taste/color is AMAZING and so worth it, right?

    Here’s my favorite way to make green beans this year. We’ve had them at least once a week … Oops. Enjoy! http://thenourishingcook.com/green-beans-with-bacon-and-caramelized-onions/

    • We lived in a town south of Nashville for a while with an awesome farmers market around the corner. We were pretty good about going every Saturday and bringing home enough to last us through the week. We moved into town, though last year and our neighborhood farmers market is nice but small. I’ve found the CSA is awesome for 3/4 of our weeks meals, and then we visit our local market to augment whatever we might need more of or didn’t get in our box.

      The chickens are awesome. Should be posting about them in a week or so. Nashville finally passed an urban chicken ordinance in the spring so our neighborhood went wild. When I baked retail I sourced eggs locally and man oh man – you’re so right. The taste + color in those eggs was so beautiful and spoiled me from grocery store eggs!

      Thanks for the recipe, too. We haven’t finished last weeks beans and brought back another gallon ziploc bag full, so we’ll be having lots and lots of beans this week. Nothing bacon can’t make better!

  5. Pretty amazing haul :)

    As for green beans…I usually sauté some shallots in a skillet with lots of butter…add the green beans and some chicken broth, cooking until beans are desired consistency. Sometimes I will throw in some chopped bacon or sliced almonds. Simple, delicious and easy.

    I host a weekly CSA link party and would love for you to be a part of it. Come and check it out and add your link. http://inherchucks.com/2012/08/30/whats-in-the-box-41/. Hope to see you there!

    • I think I messed up and linked to an April post in the comments. Then I figured out how to link up to your latest CSA post. So sorry for the double post! Thanks so much for the invite. Love the blog. And happy to experiment with your beans recipe – we just brought in another huge haul this afternoon.

    • Thanks for participating! Hope you continue to link up your CSA posts :)

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