Brookwood Community Farm in Canton, MA established itself in 2006 by continuing to grow produce on land farmed for generations by others. It’s a somewhat small yet community focused farm that “strives to restore underutilized farmland for agricultural purposes, while maintaining and cultivating the ecological richness and diversity of the land.”
Brookwood Community Farm
11 Blue Hill River Road
Canton, MA 02187
A friend from my high school days who works for the farm reached out and told me about it. She wanted me to visit Brookwood and try some of their vegetables so that I could share my experience with the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in time for the fall sign up (September 26 – November 18). I received two weeks of complimentary vegetables from the farm on consecutive Saturdays and did not regret it.
With that said, I’ve always been a bit skeptical about CSA’s for a variety of reasons. I do support local businesses and I applaud sustainability efforts from those seeking to produce food locally, which is exactly what most CSA’s are trying to accomplish. Some of my concerns arose after observing the experiences that friends had with CSA’s. In particular, I was concerned with food waste and quality. Some of my friends received so many vegetables, that it became a chore to try and eat or preserve them in a week before the next share arrived so that they wouldn’t spoil. I absolutely abhor food waste and try to minimize my own as much as possible, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that the vegetables I received from Brookwood weren’t more than my family could handle. If they were, my friend told me that the veggies made nice impromptu gifts to friends and family or could be frozen or preserved where necessary. Brookwood also offers a newsletter to its patrons that sometimes has recipe suggestions for those unsure about what to do with their weekly haul. As for quality, I was told that some of the vegetables may not appear as “pretty” as those in the grocery store, but honestly, most of the produce looked fantastic to me. It really just depends on the product and harvest that week. When I arrived for my first pickup, I saw the board that tells participants what their share entails that week. The shares I received contained, carrots, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, husk cherries (what’s a husk cherry? see below!), eggplant, herbs, onions, and an option to pick your own herbs and cherry tomatoes.
The carrots, for example, are a bit smaller and less picturesque than the grocery store, but they taste better as well as have some of the lushest carrot greens (which are edible!) I’ve ever seen. The tomatoes on the other hand, were often as large or even larger than those at the grocery store (especially the plum tomatoes!). Even better, the tomatoes weren’t overripe because they were so fresh. They’re perfect right away for use in salsas and great after letting them ripen a bit for other applications.
The green peppers were very nice and ranged from deep green to almost yellow, which my wife loved. The onions each week came as either shallots or small yellow onions, which personally, I feel one can never have enough of at home for cooking.
As someone that isn’t a big fan of eggplant anymore, I really liked that Brookwood grows other types of common foods. They don’t just grow the typical big, dark purple eggplant most people know, but they have other varieties with lighter, thinner skins, or varying shapes as well.
I’ve seen some CSA’s where all of the vegetables are delivered in a box to the recipients, so there’s no need to go out to the farm or even pick anything. Brookwood asks their patrons to come to the farm, select their own vegetables from under a tent (which is great because you can get the ones you like), and then gives them the option to go out into the fields to pick some of their own produce right from the land. I wasn’t so sure about picking my own herbs and cherry tomatoes, but honestly I found it very fun and enjoyable. They make it easy to get to the areas and it gives one a sense of appreciation for the hard work that goes into agriculture and cultivation that we often forget about due to the convenience of grocery stores.
My favorite part of trying out Brookwood’s CSA is that it introduced me to produce I not only never tried, but never even knew about. For example, husk cherries. I’ve never even heard of a husk cherry, nevermind seen one. At Brookwood, we got a pint of husk cherries, which are related to tomatillos and gooseberries rather than cherries. They have a husk on the outside that is peeled off and inside it looks like a tiny mini tomato or tomatillo. The best part is that they taste like a cross between a tomato and a pineapple. Mind. Blown. I used them along with the fresh picked cherry tomatoes and shallots to make a killer husk cherry salsa!
If you enjoy fresh vegetables, supporting local businesses, eating sustainable food, and trying new produce often not found at grocery stores, then a CSA like Brookwood’s might just be for you. For more information about signing up for Brookwood’s Fall CSA, visit their website: https://brookwoodcommunityfarm.org/csa.
Some of the produce that the farm anticipates for the fall are:
- Lunchbox peppers
- Swiss Chard
- Lettuce and Salad Mix
- Hakurei (What’s that? Exactly.)
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