Let's face it. Gardening isn't for everyone.
There are a lot of people out there who hate the thought of dirt under their fingernails. They would argue there are much better things to do than spend hours attacking an infestation of weeds in the vegetable patch. Who cares if the mulch around your foundation shrubs is double ground bark or recycled shredded tires, as long you don't have to be the one to spread it around.
The rest of us, those who would no more place a recycled tire in our yard than chew off our own foot, don't judge the rest of you. We may feel a bit of sympathy, but we won't accuse you of a secret desire to mow over our recent planting of petunias.
I would expect the vegetable growers among us to be a little more wary of non-gardeners. After all, what person would turn their nose up at the opportunity to experience the taste of a tomato that had not only ripened on the vine, but the vine was still attached to the plant when said ripening occurred? Who wouldn't want the experience of bringing up a garden-forkful of soil and watch with a smug feeling of accomplishment as large potato tubers roll off onto the surface of the garden?
It isn't even the physical work involved in gardening that we believe nongardeners are missing.
For flower lovers, we understand that you can stop by the local market or flower shop on payday and pick up a bouquet of colorful freshness to enliven your table, even though we know you can accomplish the same thing for mere pennies if you cut fresh flowers from your own backyard.
But vegetable gardeners just can't grasp the reasoning behind choosing grocery store, long-distance traveled vegetables over homegrown. There is simply no comparison.
But there is help for you. And you don't even have to lift a finger except, perhaps, to write a check. It's called Community Supported Agriculture, and the trend is growing faster than a patch of radishes.
I am told that CSAs have been around for at least 20 years, although their initial concept has changed over the years.
A few seasons ago, a fellow gardening friend from Virginia explained a new business one of her family members was considering. An organic gardener, this relative planned to grow the vegetables, but instead of selling them by the pound, her customers would buy the plant itself.
If you bought six tomato plants, you would get all the fruit from those six tomatoes. The same would go for cucumbers, squash, peppers and other vegetables. Customers who wanted the food but not the effort involved in the growing could get the same fresh vegetables as real gardeners, for a price.
I can't imagine the record-keeping involved in operating such a business, but I thought, at the time, that the idea was quite unique.
CSAs operate something like this, but differently. CSA farmers sell not the individual plants but ''shares'' of the harvest. For an initial payment of, let's say, $400, a customer will get a box or other determined container of a mixture fresh produce, depending on what is in-season.
Deliveries or pickups usually are made each week for a period of at least 10 weeks. This means you are paying $40 a week for fresh, organic produce.
Some CSA farmers will prepare the container for you, while others may let you choose what you want from their selection of seasonal items. The latter method would eliminate surprises and ensure you weren't getting something no one in your family would eat.
Some CSAs also include farm-fresh eggs, homemade bread and cheeses, or even flowers if that's what you want for your money.
Farmers who participate get to receive their payment early in the season to help with cash flow until the commercial crops are ready later in the year. They also get their marketing out of the way early in the year, so they can devote more of their time to the actual gardening part of it when the season is in full swing.
In addition to knowing where their food is from, customers get to eat the freshest of foods that haven't had to travel thousands of miles across the country before it reaches your dinner table. Customers also are likely to experience many different varieties of vegetables they wouldn't normally find in stores because not all are suitable for shipping.
CSA farms generally have a central site where they will deliver your produce for you to pick up. Some members split the cost with family or friends and in turn, split the box of goods when it arrives.
In our area, there are local farmers markets that usually are open from July to September, but CSAs often begin delivery in June.
The concept of buying a membership in a CSA just might be a good alternative for someone who wants to support the idea of buying locally produced fresh food but hates the thought of all the work involved. For more information on Community Supported Agriculture, log on to www.localharvest.org/
Evanoff is a Master Gardener with The Ohio State University Extension of Trumbull County. She
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.