Here's my problem with community-supported agriculture: There's only so much kale I can stand to eat.
Joining a CSA means receiving a share of a farm's weekly produce, whatever that happens to be. Sometimes, though, it happens to be lots of kale. I'm for local farming, but there are limits.
Happily enough, Penn's Corner — a cooperative that connects Pittsburgh-area households to dozens of area farms — has a solution: an online farmstand (www.pennscorner.com/farm-stand) where you can order only the produce you want.
"It's a good way to ease into using more local food," says program coordinator Lydia Vanderhill.
Each Monday, participating farms tell Vanderhill what they've got to offer, so she can post it that afternoon. (As of this writing, for example, available products include: fingerling potatoes, garlic chives, shitake mushrooms and frozen beef tongue.) Orders are taken through Thursday on a first-come/first-served basis. Customers pick up and pay for their orders the following Monday at locations in alternating neighborhoods: Squirrel Hill, Lawrenceville, the North Side and Mount Lebanon.
The farmstand, which went online last year, "is the newest, and smallest, part of what we do," says Vanderhill. But she touts its convenience and ability to offer niche items, like Jerusalem artichokes.
There's no start-up fee or minimum order. And the program is a boon to farmers as well, notes Vanderhill: "They see it as a farmer's market they don't have to sit at all day."