NEW! Google Custom Search

Loading

CSA farming...

jrobin's picture

There was a small article in the latest issue about Consumer Supported Agriculture. Does anyone here belong to one? How do you like it?


 

courgette's picture

(post #43565, reply #1 of 42)

We have been members for 6 years I think. We love it. Ours is certified organic. We go to the farm on Tuesdays to pick up our veggies. We also get rhubarb, strawberries, and fall raspberries, as well as melons.  Our farmers are Quakers and they don't drive so we have to go there. THey raise horses and use them for all the farm work. You can have a working share and pay less in return for 5 hours of work during the season. We also get flowers from a cutting garden and fresh herbs. We have recruited about 10 families just by telling people how much we like it. The basic premise is that you share the risk with the farmer so in a good year you get more, ina bad year you get less. Last year we had very few tomatoes, but a bumper crop of raspberries. Some years we have gotten 3 ears of corn in a week and other years we got 18.


I'm having trouble thinking, I was in the yard all day and can hardly move. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

elizaram's picture

(post #43565, reply #2 of 42)

Quite a few here do, I believe. This is our 3rd year with a CSA, and we are very happy with the arrangement. For us it works out to about $25 per box, which ranges from 1/2 bu. in the spring to 3/4 bu. or more in the late summer. That's cheaper even than the pale long-distance veggies at the supermarket, and this is all organic and as fresh as you can get without picking it yourself. The farmers host several events during the year, including a strawberry-picking party in June and a harvest party in the fall, potlucks, farm tours, etc. And of course there is the warm fuzzy feeling you get from supporting a local family farm.


Disadvantages? There are a few. The sheer quantity is overwhelming sometimes - if something is in season, you get a lot of it. The first few tomatoes are heaven; the last few end up sitting on the counter till they turn green. And if you hate cauliflower, you probably won't be too enthused to find that they sent you two heads of it for the 3rd week in a row. You don't get to choose what goes in the box, and it can be a challenge to figure out how to use an unfamiliar item or that week's particular combination of veggies. (This gets easier with practice! and our CSA has an e-mail list where people often swap ideas.) Pickup can be a hassle - if we go out of town for the weekend, we have to find someone to get our box for us. And occasionally, the CSA boxes end up as the dumping grounds for produce that isn't pretty enough for the farmer's market or their commercial accounts. (Our first year, we got bags and bags of moldy shallots and cipollini onions. They were edible - just needed to be peeled - but the restaurants and grocery stores wouldn't take them.)


Obviously, for us, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages - we've continued to renew our membership even though I am married to the world's pickiest eater and have a 3 year old who thinks I'm trying to poison him every time I approach him with something green on a fork. It's a great value, and we're eating much more veggies than we would otherwise. Our CSA farmers say that most new members quit after the first year, but those who stay usually become long term customers. Clearly it is not for everyone, and it's definitely challenging, but also very rewarding.



When I was young, all my friends were imaginary. Now that I'm older, all my friends are virtual.

jrobin's picture

(post #43565, reply #3 of 42)

Wow, thanks for the input. I wonder why the new members leave, do you think they are disappointed with some of the bad stuff like the shallots that you got? I recently was at a farmers market and picked up some of those cipollini onions and didn't know how rare they are here in PA, and just a small box came to $15 ($10/pd).  Yikes!


I found a CSA within a few miles of my home, left a message and haven't heard back, they are brand new. Another one is a good 15 miles away but has been in business for several years. Organic farming seems to be really slow coming to this area.  But good things take time.


It sounds like fun to me if I can get started. I saw an episode on Food Network on the show 'recipe for success'. They did a story on www.planetorganics.com and that sounds like the same thing except it is a delivery service. That sounds just awsome.


 

elizaram's picture

(post #43565, reply #4 of 42)

I wonder why the new members leave, do you think they are disappointed with some of the bad stuff like the shallots that you got?


I suspect most were simply overwhelmed. Cooking seasonally is a skill that is not very common anymore. Most people are used to planning their meals first, then going to the grocery store and picking out exactly what they need to make them (whether in season or not). With a CSA you have to get used to doing it the other way around - getting your box of veggies and then deciding what you are going to do with it. Like I said, it gets easier with practice. Also, the sheer volume can be intimidating - every week I end up throwing a few things out which didn't get used in time. I had to get over the guilt feelings over "wasting food", but perhaps some people never do.


And you have to have a sense of adventure about your food. Most people are content to eat just peas, green beans, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, and sweet corn. A CSA also ensures you will get to try nettles, burdock, ramps, rutabagas, bok choy, kohlrabi, parsnips, edamame, radish greens, kale, garlic scapes, and the list goes on. Fortunately I am pretty adventurous when it comes to food. My husband and son are most definitely not! And I couldn't eat a whole 3/4 bu. box by myself! We continued to subscribe after our first year, but reached a compromise - we signed up for an every-other-week box, and on the off weeks I go to the farmer's market and get extra of their favorites. It worked out well for us last year, so we're doing it that way again this time around.



When I was young, all my friends were imaginary. Now that I'm older, all my friends are virtual.

pamilyn's picture

(post #43565, reply #17 of 42)

Where are you in PA...Pamilyn

The purpose of Art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls

jrobin's picture

(post #43565, reply #18 of 42)

Hanover, PA. 

ChefRobert's picture

(post #43565, reply #5 of 42)

We have two CSA farms within 10 miles of us, but have decided not to participate in either.  The only reason is the volume of produce, there are only two if us and it would be just too much.  Interestingly, both of these farms are former estates, one, Green Meadows Farm, was the home of General George Patton, and is still owned by the family, the other, Appleton Farms, 1700 acres, once owned by a wealthy industrialist family, is owned now by the Trustees of the Reservation, a not-for-profit organization that acquires and protects land from development, thus preserving open space.  (One of the former owners was so influencial, a member of the Board of Directors of the RR, he had a platform built along the RR tracks through his land for the train to stop and pick him up so he could travel to his Boston office.)  Can you imagine how many Macmansions could be built on 1700 acres of prime farm land!  The CSA concept is really great and promotes sustainable agriculture and family farming.  Bob


What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!


Edited 5/16/2005 2:32 pm ET by Chef Robert

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

jrobin's picture

(post #43565, reply #6 of 42)

I love adventure in food, luckily my husband loves my passion for trying new foods.  The new CSA that I found is only a few acres large. The next closest is 1/2 hr drive.  Grrrrr. The local farmers market has nothing organic yet.


So Chef Robert, do those estates border your estate?


hehehe

ChefRobert's picture

(post #43565, reply #8 of 42)

Jrobin asked: So Chef Robert, do those estates border your estate?


He he, there is a lot of very expensive real estate beween them and our humble over-valued half-acre.  Unfortunately, we live in the Boston area, which has some of the highest real estate prices in the country.  We certainly could not afford to buy our property in today's market.  Bad enough paying the taxes.


When our two children were young we did "farm" 1600 square feet using largely organic methods.  Our most recent growing experiences have been feeding the bunnies and woodchucks, so we stopped.  However, if we did border these two farms I could sneak over and sample the produce to make sure it was up to quality.  Bob


What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

Risottogirl's picture

(post #43565, reply #7 of 42)

We have not joined a CSA because there are just two of us and I REALLY like going to the Farmers market once or twice a week. If I had all the CSA stuff, there is no way I could get anything at the Farmer's market - too much is too much!


I have thought about going halves with another couple but I still would miss picking out stuff at the markets.



I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate
Julia Child


Edited 5/16/2005 3:46 pm ET by RISOTTOGIRL

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

ChefRobert's picture

(post #43565, reply #9 of 42)

We are going to try to get to the Marblehead farmer's market this summer and also to the one in Topsfield, which, hopefullly, has improved since we last tried it.  But as I have mentioned previously on another thread, getting to Marblehead is a large pain.  From Danvers you have to go through Salem, an unpleasant task most of the time.  Bob

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

chuckkeller's picture

(post #43565, reply #20 of 42)

Hi, Just read your message about M'head Farmers Market. When I visited my Mom, last week, she said, the School Dept. was no longer going to allow them to use the Middle School property! Why, we have no idea. We heard it might move to Star Of The Sea, parking lot. Maybe call C of C before toy go.           Also, have you seen Alton Browns show on Risotto?  Excellent, as always.  Best wishes, Chuck

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

Risottogirl's picture

(post #43565, reply #21 of 42)

Umm... I have been to Marblehead but never to the farmer's market so I have no idea about the location change.


I usually go to Brookline or one of the Cambridge markets.


I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate
Julia Child

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

ChefRobert's picture

(post #43565, reply #22 of 42)

The Marblehead Farmer's Market has been relocated to behind the old high school, now called Veterans Memorial Middle School, off Pleasant Street.  It opens Saturday, June 11 at 9am.  There were surrounding communities willing to take the market if the school committee would not allow it to use school property.  Bob

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

chuckkeller's picture

(post #43565, reply #23 of 42)

CB, TKS for info. I'm glad they got a location in M'head. Boy, you sure know a lot for a guy who doesn't get out much!!     Your friend & mine, Chuck

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

ChefRobert's picture

(post #43565, reply #24 of 42)

Chuck, because I don't get to Boston much, does not mean I don't have ways of getting information.  LOL  Friends in the right places.  Bob

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

Gretchen's picture

(post #43565, reply #10 of 42)

That is great that these are being preserved.  Just to show that it isn't always the rich and inluential that care about green spaces and limiting development, there is a pumpkin patch farm south of charlotte.  We went to it for our DGS's birthday. They have hay rides, a petting zoo, pumpkins,and a picnic area for the party. As we were bumping along on the hay ride we looked over a lake at the "macMansions" and I said to a dad something about the value of the farm. He said it had been given in perpetuity to the town, never to be developed.  Pretty impressive in the Charlotte housing market.

Gretchen

Gretchen
ChefRobert's picture

(post #43565, reply #12 of 42)

Gretchen wrote: He said it had been given in perpetuity to the town, never to be developed.


There is a similar situation where we live.  Danvers known for its carrots and onions, well actually the onion seeds.  Massachusetts passed a law a few years ago allowing towns to purchase active farmland, paying market value, so the land can be continued to be farmed and not be developed.  When the land is no longer farmed it becomes part of the town's open space.  This has saved two farms in town, 50 years ago there were probably 30 or more farms.  Bob


What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

chuckkeller's picture

(post #43565, reply #13 of 42)

CR. I'm farmiliar with both locations. I'm originally from M'head. Also T of R. Tell me, have you been to Equater, in Boston? Would be interested in any feed back!  Chuck

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

ChefRobert's picture

(post #43565, reply #15 of 42)

Chuck asked: Tell me, have you been to Equater, in Boston?


No, we rarely venture into Boston.  Since there is virtually no public transportation where we live it is a large pain to go to Boston.  Driving into Boston is for youth not some old f*rt like me.  Bob


What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

What do you mean there is no chocolate in this recipe!

chuckkeller's picture

(post #43565, reply #19 of 42)

Bob, Thanks anyway, for your reply. I understand Boston traffic. That's why I moved to the Western Mts. of Maine. There are no traffic lights, where I live!! Imagine.  Chuck

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

If, at first, you fricascee, fry, fry a hen!

Marcia's picture

(post #43565, reply #11 of 42)

We have been members of a CSA for four years, since its beginning. Our farmer is passionate about farming, and has worked hard to make the program more user friendly over the years.


One can purchase shares of three different sizes, which is a boon to small families, and for the past two years, there has been a very nice arrangement. Produce is lined on shelves in a sort of open barn. You take your basket and fill it with what you like. Because of the vagaries of weather, there are sometimes limits on things, but in general we have been most satisified or we wouldn't have continued our membership. It works out to about $20 a week and seems well worth it to us.


 

ouzo's picture

(post #43565, reply #14 of 42)

I love my CSA!!   This will be our 4th year.  This particular farm delivers produce for 18 weeks.  I live in Seattle.  The farm (Helsing Junction Farm)is half way between Seattle and Portland.  They started delivering to Portland last year.  Twice a week they drop off produce at locations in the Puget Sound area.  My husband and I rarely dine out.  We have no problem going through the food in a week.  Without the csa, I never would have tried parsnips, celery root or butternut squash. 


Why do people leave a CSA?



  • Too much food for them.  This CSA provides recipes so that one knows what to do with the food.  Last year they started to offer half shares.  My husband and I get a full share.  I still go to the farmers' market in my neighborhood.

  • Quality of produce or quantity.  This CSA has been in business for over 20 years.  I think this makes a difference.  They know what people like.  They know what quantity to plant.  No zukes from this CSA. 

  • Selection (or lack thereof).  This CSA delivered over 120 different items last year.  Granted, that included about 10 types of lettuce, but there are real differences in these varieties and the variety of lettuce makes a fantastic salad.  I can hardly wait for June. 

  • Can't figure out seasonal eating.  I can't help this type of person.  In the summers I am on a mostly non-meat diet.  I lost weight last year. 

  No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted - Aesop, The Lion & the mouse

jrobin's picture

(post #43565, reply #16 of 42)

Wow, I am so jealous.  I would love to have all those vegetables at hand!!

lwj2's picture

(post #43565, reply #25 of 42)

Our local natural foods co-op offers memberships in a CSA. Problem for me is that it's in Floyd County, a >hundred mile round trip. With being a medical type that takes call and the cost of fuel, it's not an option.

That said, we have a very active farmers market here in Roanoke, so Saturday frequently means a trip downtown for a pleasant morning of freshly roast coffee, pastries and shopping for the week's produce.

Cheers!

Leon Jester
Leon
RHart18's picture

(post #43565, reply #26 of 42)

I just wanted to thank you all for starting this discussion.  I had no idea what a CSA was until I read about it here.  I checked on-line and there is one right around the corner from me (it's part of Rutgers' agriculture school).  The students actually run the farm.  I had no idea about it!  I've sent my money in and hope to be picked (there were only 14 spots left).  I'm really looking forward to it.  I don't usually buy organic produce, but I do love the taste of fresh picked vegetables.  I'll be getting some we've never tried before (collards, kale) but a lot of stuff we love (tomatos).


This one runs from June until mid way through October.  When you calculate the price, it turns out to be less than $20 per week.


Thanks again!  This is why I love this board!

TracyK's picture

(post #43565, reply #27 of 42)

I have a great method for collards when they come in... with caramelized onions (or leeks), balsamic vinegar, and hot sauce. yum!!

Squirrels are just rats in cuter outfits.
       -- Carrie Bradshaw

RHart18's picture

(post #43565, reply #29 of 42)

Sounds good.  I may need a few more recipes if we get the amount they say we will!

TracyK's picture

(post #43565, reply #31 of 42)

They're kind of like spinach, in that they do cook down a lot. I can eat them as a meal all by myself. :-)

Squirrels are just rats in cuter outfits.
       -- Carrie Bradshaw

CHandGreeson's picture

(post #43565, reply #28 of 42)

I would bet that Rutgers' Ag School also offer freshly butchered meat, too. I know Purdue did when we lived there.