When Meredith MacDonald lived in San Francisco and Berkeley as she pursued a graduate degree in divinity, she knew people who belonged to CSAs. But this vegetarian preferred to walk or bike to her cities’ big farmers markets, where she reveled in picking her own food. The Essex County native came to love California’s food and its bountiful, year-round growing season.
After 10 years in California, it was time to come back to the Garden State so her husband, also a vegetarian, could start graduate school at UMDNJ. Meredith got to be close to her family again, which had moved from Essex to Morris County while she was gone. To fill the vegetable void, Meredith joined Upper Meadows Farm’s CSA site at Ashley Farms in Flanders.
“Now that I’m in New Jersey”, she told me, “it seemed like a good time to commit to a CSA. I give up getting to choose what I get each week in exchange for being a part of a local, organic, food community that supports a farm.” And then there are all the things that she doesn’t get as a member of a CSA: “I read labels and food safety studies on additives and genetically modified crops, and I really dislike the chemicals and additives that are found in so many supermarket brands of prepackaged food. I don’t want to pay for that stuff to be added to my food! I don’t want to pay for endless packaging and hundreds of miles of transportation.”
And perhaps the pundits who deem local, organic food “elitist” should listen to this. “I don’t have a lot of money,” Meredith said. “I just finished graduate school myself. So it’s really important to me that the money I do choose to spend supports exactly what I want it to support.”
Meredith said she is looking forward to the wide range of greens from Upper Meadows Farm and to trying new vegetables, like the orange cauliflower that Leonard has planted. She has big plans for the farm’s many varieties of tomatoes, which include learning how to use a pressure canner. And if you want to make jam, Meredith could be your guru.
When Meredith is not cooking, she is sewing or knitting, activities that she chronicles on her blog, Paper Dolly Girl. Like several other Upper Meadows CSA members, she is also a member of the knitting and crocheting site Ravelry, and and any knitter who has ever faithfully followed directions only to be left with a garment that is hopelessly the wrong size can commiserate with her recent knitted dress post.
Introduce yourself to Meredith if you get the chance, in Flanders, at a volunteer day or through her blog.