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How old is that tomato in your hand at the local super market? A few days? A week? How long until it will begin rotting once you get it home? What types of pesticides were used on the crop? All of these questions are impossible to answer as a shopper looks at produce from their local grocery store. The only way to know for sure how it was grown is to get it straight from the farm. But is that a reality for shoppers living in cities, even the suburbs? Well maybe it is with your very own community supported agriculture (CSA).

Community supported agriculture is not a new idea of course, but it is gaining in popularity with people living in such places as they become more vigilant about the foods they eat. Plus, with the affordability of online communication such as websites for farms, and emailing to send out crop lists and delivery times, running a CSA is easier than ever for everyone’s participation.

Just like buying shares in a company, community supported agriculture allows families to buy shares of your farm crop for a season. Now, this doesn’t mean a share of the entire crop a farm grows, but rather CSA farms have set fields or rows dedicated to CSA crop yields. Shares range based on the number of people you expect to feed.

Each week the CSA farm designates a variety of vegetables and fruits as a share. For example, one week in spring for a farm in the Southeastern United States a share could include various amounts of beans, carrots, beets, corn, strawberries, peas, squash, lettuce and greens, cabbage, tomatoes, and turnips. Once you set the amount of produce one share equals for the week, families receive produce amounts based on the number of shares purchased.

CSA is not without risks. Families buying shares will not get a refund even if poor weather or other problems affect the CSA crop yield. But as we know the chances of not getting anything are very slim. And let’s face it, shoppers are not protected from poor weather conditions or crop blights at the grocery store either. So when adverse growing conditions affect regions, the prices on produce at the local grocery store increase accordingly. (Something to think about, right?)

Delivery of CSA produce is handled differently by each farm. You might elect to have share buyers pick up the produce at your location, or at a centralized location between the farm and urban living areas. Many CSA’s are managed in a grass roots style, so families can also arrange to “carpool” the vegetables with other CSA participants and switch off pick up weeks. A rarer option is personalized delivery of CSA produce, but that usually comes with an extra cost.

A final benefit of your own CSA is in bringing the family to the farm. CSA farmers are glad to show families where the crops are grown and teach children how their favorite vegetables and fruit go from seeds to snacks. And there might be ‘pick your own’ days where CSA participants can bring containers and pick strawberries or beans directly from the fields.

Participating in a CSA helps farmers and urban families have more control over the environment. You are helping to cut down on the amount of produce shipped by truck (usually across the country) and helping to better protect the earth. People feel good about their part in it, by supporting a local farm they know they’re buying fresh produce free of pesticides and artificial enhancements, and reducing green house gas emissions. When they participate in a community supported agriculture program they can save money on produce, and bring the freshest food home to their family’s table.

Find CSA information and opportunities in your area: Resources For Women Who Want To Farm

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Shoe Trends: How to Wear Riding Boots

If you’re ready to step out in style this fall, you’ll want one of the year’s hottest foot wear trends, the riding boot. Why are these boots such big news in the fashion world? Not only are they easy on they eyes, but they’re comfortable to boot. Confused about what to wear them with? Here’s how to wear those ultra comfortable and versatile riding boots.

Wear them with skinny pants.

The most basic, but still sleek and sexy way to wear riding boots is to slide them on over slim jeans in dark denim, or a pair of riding pants with a fall turtleneck or oxford shirt and one of the season’s other “must have” accessories, a thin belt. This look is appropriate for almost any casual outdoor function. Not only will you look chic and fashionable but your feet won’t feel the pinch. The flat heel on riding boots makes them one of the most comfy boots of all.

Wear them with dresses.

 Riding boots can add a whole new dimension to your favorite dress. While you can wear riding boots with a variety of dress types, keep the hem of the dress above the top of the boot, otherwise the look will be formless and unflattering. Try pairing riding boots with a shorter, wrap-around shirt dress for classic look. If you’re in great shape, wear riding boots with a shorter, form fitting knit dress and tights that match your boots. Try layering dresses by placing a sleeveless dress over a long sleeved dress, add a belt and a pair of riding boots for a super chic look. Layering is another key fall fashion trend.

Wear them with skirts

 Riding boots look chic and casual teamed with a skirt and matching tights. Generally shorter skirts look best with riding boots. Be sure you’re wearing tights that match your boots to avoid cutting the line of the outfit as well as giving the appearance of being shorter than you are. One fun idea is to wear riding boots with a saucy, pleated skirt and turtleneck. Hang an oversized handbag from your shoulder and you can welcome fall in style.

 When selecting riding boots choose a pair that fits snuggly against your leg. Riding boots are meant to be sleek and form fitting. They’re a forgiving look if your calves are somewhat less than perfect as they cover them in style. Don’t forget about wearing riding boots with leather and suede jackets for an ultra cool fall fashion look. If you can only choose a single pair of riding boots to add to your wardrobe, you can’t go wrong with dark brown or basic black. Pick up some matching tights and you have instant fall versatility. Have fun exploring the world in your riding boots this fall!


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