Sign Up for The Produce Box This Season

the produce box delivery

The season is about to begin and if you’re in North Carolina, I highly recommend you check to see if The Produce Box is delivering in your area. They’re starting deliveries the week of April 18th and they’re taking new members now.

Save Money, Eat Better, and Partner with Local Farmers

For those not familair with community supported agriculture, when you sign up you’re shareholder or member that has a economic relationship with a local farmer or farms. The Produce Box works to connect North Carolina farmers with local consumers. It’s a wonderful way to get fresh food in a sustainable manner. It’s even delivered right to your door, making it incredibly convenient.

We saved some money going with The Produce Box last season. For $22/week we have our sides covered for the week and sometimes our entire meal as we have been having more vegetarian dishes.

Here’s what we received one week last season:  the produce box delivery

  • Personal Watermelon
  • Roma Tomatoes (5-7)
  • Blueberries (1 pint)
  • Sweet Pepper Mix
  • Corn (six ears)
  • Cucumbers (3)
  • Red Potatoes ( 2 quarts)

Our box was pretty much full the entire season. We had friends over for meals to help us finish our boxes, another bonus in my book.

How The Produce Box Works

what really appealed to me when we were looking around was how easy it was to sign up and become a member. The Produce Box has a small enrollment fee annually ($18 this season) and then you pay weekly. How it worked last season for us:

  • On Fridays we received an email with a list of options for boxes of produce along with news and information about the farmers and member events. There’s a default box that has a variety of items and there are other , typically themed boxes (like all organic, salad box, salsa box, etc).
  • We placed your order (or skip the week) by Sunday evening through their website.  We also had the option to add on specialty items or extra produce. (If you don’t skip or decide on other box, you’ll be sent the default box for the week.) This year the weekly default is $23 (price include sales tax and the cost of delivery).
  • We received our box on Thursdays (deliveries are made Wednesdays and Thursdays). Included with our deliveries were the member newsletters full of tips and recipes for the produce we received.

We loved the system and had no problems when we decided to skip a couples of weeks. Out of the whole season, we had one item that need to be replaced and it was automatically done for us.

Thoughts on This Season’s Food Plans

I’d love to hear what you have planned for this upcoming season. Are you participating in CSA in your area? Do you plan on growing a home garden?

Getting Ready to Start the Garden Again

vegetable garden at home

Perhaps because we’ve had a mild winter this year, but I’m already thinking about what to grow in our small family garden.  We don’t have a big amount of space – instead of cramming it with junk, I’d like to grow something. I think it’ll be a bit more fun this year with our baby girl. We’ve done pretty well with peppers and herbs, but this year I’d like to branch out just a tad.

Deciding on What to Grow

This will be the third year we’ve had a small garden. The first two were learning experiences. We managed to grow a bit and we managed to lose some – either to neglect, lack or gardening knowledge, or my personal favorite hungry animals.

  • Icebox Watermelon

    vegetable garden at home
    Our garden space is about 5% of this person's garden.
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Bell Pepper
  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Habenero Peppers
  • Eggplant
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Rosemary

I was really excited to see the watermelons grow on the vine outside the other year, but when I came home one afternoon, I saw that I wasn’t the only one. Apparently a deer or a rabbit grabbed some (I don’t know what eats what) came for a visit and tore it up.

Looking back, I’m growing to plan ahead this year instead of grabbing what was on sale at Lowe’s. Hopefully it will mean we’ll have a much more productive return on our garden.

What’s the Easiest to Grow?

I wish my first item on the list wasn’t convenience, but honestly if a vegetable is high maintenance, then it won’t make it in my garden. Peppers are definitely on the list and so are herbs, those grew with practically no help for us. any suggestions on other easy to grow vegetables?

What Would We Actually Eat?

I’m not a big cucumber fan, so I’m going to pass on that. Last year we received quite a bit of cucumbers from The Produce Box, so I think we’ll be fine this year. I’m thinking of adding beans and possibly swiss chard. I think they’d make a great addition to our garden.

Thoughts on Family Gardens

I’m hoping to get started next week and keep updating here on how it goes. I’d love to get your feedback. Do you have a family garden at home? How big is it? How much time do you spend taking care of it? If you have any tips, please feel free to share them!

Photo Credit

Plans for Our CSA Produce This Season

fresh produce CSA

After really enjoying becoming members of The Produce Box last season, we decided to sign up again. We paid our seasonal enrollment fee of $18 and we’re look forward for the season to start some time in April.

While we definitely got quite a lot of value with the membershiplast year, I think we could do a better job with using our produce more creatively.  We don’t want to waste of any of the food, so we’ve came up with some plans on being effective and efficient with our food spending.

fresh produce CSA
Excited about the upcoming season with The Produce Box!

Develop a Weekly Meal Plan

Every Friday we received an email with a listing of the different boxes available for order with the upcoming week. We based many of our decisions last season on trying new items, which I do believe is a great goal to have. However, it also meant that we had times when we couldn’t use all the produce within that week or two.

To cut back on waste, we’re going to look at the options available, come up with a rough meal plan for the week, and order accordingly. Besides having us use up the produce first, we can also reduce shopping trips for non-essentials due to lack of planning.

Learn More Recipes

Keeping up with deliveries was a bit difficult last season at times due to not knowing how to prepare some of the box’s contents. To alleviate that I’m making it a goal of trying out recipes from the inserts for the items we have cooked with before. The weekly newsletters we receive are a valuable resources, but I’m embarrassed to say we didn’t use it as well as we could have before.

I’m also encouraging my husband to try to learn a few recipes as well – he takes care of weekend meals and I think The Produce Box has plenty of options for him.

Time to Learn to Store Better

We had some food spoil last year due to improper storage and lack of organization. We had some weeks of overflow that we just packed the fridge. Even when we skipped a week, the extra food wasn’t being used quickly enough. We’ll work harder to properly store the food and maybe get some canning in.

I think it would also be helpful to include the storage tips I learn here on Married Food. Hopefully you can also share your tricks to making food last longer.

Have Produce Parties

When all else fails, I think we’ll be having a few produce parties at our place for friends and family. It’ll be great to have loved ones over and save some money from not eating out.

Thoughts on Weekly Produce

How many of you have signed up for CSA deliveries? How will you be maximizing it this season?

Photo Credit:  moon angel

Giving More: Charity: Water

One of the goals of Married Food is to increase awareness about sustainable food.  So for 2012, Married Food will be highlighting projects that can make a dramatic difference in people’s lives. Every other Sunday, I’ll share some ideas and projects that need help. Some for them will be locally based while others will be global. 

Charity: Water – Clean Drink Water Around the Globe

One of my favorite charities to support is Charity: Water. I was first introduced to this organization through Chris Guillbeau.

Why do I support this charity? It’s because of my genuine belief and desire to have safe, clean drinking water available all around the world. A donation of $20 can make a big difference in someone’s life.

100% Will Go Towards Clean Water

What I love about how this charity works is that 100% of your and my donations goes directly towards the water projects.

Here’s the explanation from Charity Water:

When we started charity: water, we made a bold promise to the general public — 100% of their donations would go directly to the field to fund water projects. We’d find another way to cover our operating expenses. And we’d even reimburse credit card fees when donations were made online.

We depend on private donors, foundations and sponsors to cover everything from staff salaries to basic office systems to office rent and supplies. These donors are some of our most dedicated: their investment fuels our long-term mission, our ability to scale as an organization and our mission to continue using 100% of public donations for water projects.

This is important to me – I want any money I give to be used effectively and efficiently.

Why is Clean Water Important?

There are so many benefits to having clean water available in a community, more than most people (including myself) have thought.

  • Health & Sanitation: Without clean water, many communities suffer with health and sanitation problems. 90% of the 30,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are of children under five years old. What makes it more tragic is that it is preventable with clean water.
  • Food Supply: Having access to water helps communities as members can now start samll gardens to sustain their families.
  • Gender Equality: Water Committee is made of appointed members from the community (men and women) who are in charge of the administration and maintenance of the new water source.
  • Economics: I found out through Charity: Water that in areas where gathering water is impossible, small-scale private water distributors charge full market prices, forcing the poorest households to spend up to 11% of their income on life’s most basic need. That money saved can redirect to other needs, helping members and their families to become more self-sufficient and to improve their livelihood.
If you’re interested in learning more or you want to be a part of the Charity: Water community, please check out their site.

Thoughts on Giving More

What are some charitable organizations that you support (whether it’s your time, skills, or money) and why? I’d love for all of us to spread the word on worthy causes in local neighborhoods and beyond.

Giving More: Feeding America

feeding america food programs

One of the goals of Married Food is to increase awareness about sustainable food.  So for 2012, Married Food will be highlighting projects that can make a dramatic difference in people’s lives. 

 Feed a Family

I’m thrilled that the first program I share on the Giving More series is Feeding America. In case you’re not familiar with them, they’re on of the biggest hunger-relief charities in the country. They have a network of over 200 food banks. With help from people like you and I, this organization can do much good.

feeding america food programs

With as many as 14 million children and 3 million seniors not knowing where their next meal will come from, Feeding America is a blessing.  Some programs that  Feeding America runs to address these dire needs include:

  • Kids Cafe: The program provide free meals and snacks to low-income children through a variety of community locations where children already congregate. The children also receive nutritional education.
  • CSFP: The Commodity Supplemental Food Program provides commodity food packages for low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, other new mothers up to one year postpartum, infants, children up to their sixth birthday, and elderly persons at least 60 years of age who meet income eligibility requirements.
  • Disaster Relief: Feeding America utilizes their national network to provide relief and recovery for areas hit by disasters.

Your Dollars Go Further

Every dollar you give to Feeding America can give 8 meals. I’d consider us a frugal family, but that amount of value is still astounding to me. That means that you can help a family in need for much less than you expect.

  • $21 can feed a family for 2 weeks
  • $45 can feed a family for a month
  • $135 can feed a family for 3 months
If you can cut back on eating out for lunch once a week (assuming it’s about $5 for your meal) and give to Feeding America, you can help a family out for a couple of weeks.
If you want to find out more about Feeding America, please visit their site or connect with them on Twitter or Facebook.

Looking to Give Locally?

If you’d rather give directly to your local food bank, here’s a list of some of the big food banks around the country. I hope it can help you make a contribution in your area.
Photo Credit: kimsdinner