class notes: top five

Five tips for making the most of your CSA

Mary Sacks, BA ’89, Owner, 9 Miles East Farm

Illustration of a CSA.

Illustration: Mark Hoffman

Interview by Rebecca Rudell


Mary Sacks wears a lot of hats. In addition to teaching at a local elementary school, she helps run 9 Miles East Farm, a 29-acre vegetable farm she and her husband started in 2004, and she manages all the marketing and social media for the farm’s meal-delivery service.

When the Sackses first purchased the farm, which is 9 miles east of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., they thought they’d grow vegetables for themselves. Eventually they decided they wanted to share their bounty with the community, but not just by selling their produce at market. They wanted to help busy people put healthy, locally sourced meals on their tables.

So they started bringing farm-made meals to a few friends, then to 10 paying customers, then 20, then 30. Today, hundreds of clients in the Albany/Saratoga Springs and metro Boston areas—at homes, offices, even a local college—receive weekly deliveries of GO Boxes (single servings of the farm’s vegetarian, protein and paleo meals, now prepared by a chef), family-friendly Dinner to GO Coolers and even pizza.

So what if you don’t live within the 9 Miles East delivery area? You may be out of luck for farm-prepared meals, but you can sign up for a community supported agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm and receive a weekly supply of fresh, seasonal produce. Of course, the preparation is now on you, but not to worry; we asked Sacks for suggestions on how to use every last lettuce leaf.

Five tips for making the most of your CSA:

1. Be adventurous
Don’t be afraid of exotic vegetables. Visit online recipe sites, like and, that let you type in an ingredient. If you can’t find a recipe you like for kohlrabi, just chop it up and sauté with garlic or onions.

2. Engage in trade
Everyone has favorite ingredients. Maybe you love tomatoes, but not broccoli. Find other people with a CSA and swap. Or split a CSA with a friend who has complementary tastes.

3. Dust off the blender
Kids won’t eat kale? Throw some in the blender with fresh fruit and ice. Smoothies are a simple way to get your vitamins—and get children to eat veggies they may find hard to swallow on their own.

4. Stock up
Making stock is easy. Just roast then chop your veggies, like carrots, onions and celery. Add herbs (parsley, thyme and bay leaf all work). Cover with water in a stockpot and simmer about an hour. Strain out veggies and store in the fridge or freezer.

5. Talk to the farmers
Most farms are happy to show visitors how they raise their products, and many have recipe cards or can suggest preparation techniques. Bring the kids and make it an educational experience!