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Member Profiles: Jess and Justin's CSA Journey

HHF members Jess and JustinWe’re kicking off the Winter CSA season with a series of member profiles. Seasonal CSA eating isn’t on everyone’s radar, but through this series we want to demystify membership and share our members’ passion for vegetables, eating fresh and the Happy Hollow Farm community.

 First up we have Jess and Justin who are newbies both to Columbia and Happy Hollow Farm’s CSA.

 Tell us a little bit about yourselves and what brought you to Columbia?

Justin and I moved to the USA from London in September 2017- I’m a Brit and Justin was born and raised in St Louis. We met in London at grad school where we were both studying environmental politics and sustainability. After 5-years living together in London we decided we should spend some time in the USA, and we eventually landed in the wonderful Columbia. Justin works for the Department of Natural Resources in Jeff City, and I work in Corporate Sustainability for an international advertising agency.

How did you learn about CSA, and what got you to join up?

We’re both avid sustainability advocates so we are always looking for ways to have a net positive impact on the world. Jess grew up in a town called Stroud which has an award-winning farmers market, so eating locally and seasonally has been on our to-do list for a long time.

Back when we lived in the UK some close friends joined a low-carbon CSA and took us along to a farm shift. We spent our afternoon planting leeks, and our evening eating the spoils of their weekly CSA box. We lived in London where geography limits CSA access, but we knew it was the kind of thing we’d love to do in the long run.

After moving to Columbia we discovered the farmers market, and a Google search put Happy Hollow Farm’s CSA on our radar. This spring we just decided to take the plunge and do something different…. and that was really the start of our CSA adventure!

What would you say are the key benefits of joining Happy Hollow Farm’s CSA?

From my perspective (Justin) it’s the taste and quality of the vegetables. There’s a lot of veg we used to buy at the grocery store that I’ve never really liked, but it turns out that it’s because they’re tasteless or mushy after being hauled around the country, chilled and preserved with ethene. Oh, and the farm itself- getting to visit on our work shift was awesome, I’m jealous of Liz’s greenhouse.  

And for me (Jess), I love having a deeper connection to my food. It’s local, you get to know Liz and her crew, you’re in tune with the seasons and the weather and through the work commitment you play a small part in the production process. Eating seasonally automatically adds variety to your meals- it’s never boring.

 Some people worry about how they’ll adapt to CSA eating- how have you found it?

I’m the cook in our house (Jess), and I thought I’d find it difficult to stray away from the standard vegetables we used to buy at the store (tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini!). I’ve actually found it to be the complete opposite. I now realize we ate the same things over and over, and the natural variation you get with a CSA made me excited to try new recipes or experiment with older ones.

What are your top tips for new members?

Meal planning is key to ensuring you eat everything in the share, but that makes it sound really hardcore… it isn’t. If you have a partial share with 2 people, you’re probably planning for 2-3 nights in a week and maybe taking a salad to work once or twice a week.

Liz emails you the vegetables in the shares each Monday or Tuesday, so you can use the week to plan what you cook. Also, the website has a calendar of the types of vegetables you’ll receive through the season (weather depending!) which does help.

But seriously, just take the leap and do it! Try it out with the shorter Winter CSA to see what you think, start off with a single share so you adjust to the amount of vegetables if you don’t eat many right now. Talk to Liz and the HHF crew at the market and they’ll give you amazing ideas for recipes. You really won’t regret it!

 What’s your favorite vegetable, and can you recommend a recipe for it?

I love the parts of the vegetables that you don’t always get in the store- garlic scapes, radish greens, beet greens etc (Jess). I am also obsessed with Swiss chard. My favorite recipe for these would be an Indian palak paneer, subbing out or supplementing spinach for the greens in your share that week. The greenness of the curry seems weird but it’s delicious. I’ve used Hemme Brothers’ cheese curds instead of paneer before- just add them in right before serving as they melt more than paneer does.

Happy Hollow Farm’s 8-week winter CSA is a great way to explore the benefits of eating the CSA way.

 Check out our Membership Q&A for more details.

 You can sign up here:

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