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Ode to the Extras Table

All hail late August, when summer harvests are at their peak! This is the time when all it takes is for three CSA members to miss pickup, and another three to skip the kale (you know who you are), and we’re left with pounds upon pounds of unclaimed food. In earlier years, we counted on these leftovers to flesh out the next pickup, but as our harvests have improved, so have our standards of freshness. Nowadays, in most cases, our food is distributed within 2–24 hours of harvest (storage crops being a notable exception). Leftovers, therefore, can pose a big problem.

That’s where the “extras table” comes in. I don’t recall exactly when it started, but at some point we began piling the leftovers on a table and inviting CSA members to help themselves. Now it’s become a sacred ritual, one that we (almost) never forget. A table that’s piled high with “Grade B” produce at 10am will be virtually empty at 12pm, and at times I wonder if the extras table is our greatest claim to CSA distinction. A member who sheepishly admits to disdaining tomatoes will gladly load up on extra chard. Another will sweep up the wilted eggplant, planning out a year’s supply of baba ghanoush. In the world of CSA shares, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all,” but the extras table allows our 200 members to exercise a measure of autonomy in their share. When it comes to organizing a CSA pickup, attention to detail is crucial. Yet three times a week, the field crew and I stand in awe of the extras table and it’s demonstration of how something so unstructured can work so well.

Field update: Both the second and third carrot plantings survived the rain are well established. Bush beans are finished but pole beans are not too far away. Black flies are biting, but thankfully there’s earth-friendly bug spray.

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