Consumer Supported Agriculture

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Otherwise known as a CSA, it is a trend that has been common in Europe for many years and has been gaining popularity in the United States over the last few years.

    Consumer Supported Agriculture is a model being used increasingly by local farms who are moving away from retail. The way it works is the consumer purchases a "share" in the season's crops and pays up front. The cost seems to range anywhere from $300 for a half share up to $700 for a whole share. The farm uses this up front payment to pay for seeds and other costs incurred as a result of growing crops.In return, once crops start coming in, the consumer is provided with a weekly "share" of the crops. While it seems like a lot of money up front, I did this last year and paid $600 for a full share and had 21 weeks of shares. This averages out to a little less than $30 a week for vegetables, which worked out to slightly less than what I spent at the grocery store on vegetables. Each weekly box easily and I mean easily contained $30 worth of product and the farm I used supplemented the early June shares with gift certificates. They seemed to go out of their way to make sure their CSA program was successful.

    There is some risk involved( for example if it happens to be a bad growing season then your shares will likely be less) but the benefits outweigh the risk overall. The freshest produce you can get without growing it yourself. When I would pick my share up on Saturday mornings, much of the vegetables had been picked earlier that morning. The quality was unmatchable. You are not paying transportation costs and buying local and supporting local is a poweful statement. Also, having all those vegetables every week encouraged me to eat healthier and try new things.

    When I re-enrolled this past Saturday, I was chatting with the owner. She told me that they have 30 percent more people enrolled than they did last year at this time. I think this is great. Last year, there seemed to be limited options for people who wanted to join a CSA, this year the options seem to have grown. A program for inner city Lawrence residents has even been implemented by another local farm.
    For more information on local CSA's as well as the benefits of buying from local farms, visit Localharvest.org



     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from Jim-in-Littleton. Show Jim-in-Littleton's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    I participated in a CSA 3 years ago and won't do it again.  I got my weekly apportionment but every week 1/2 of it was kale. Most weeks the bags were loaded with other greens in addition to the kale so I'd get a bag full of kale and another bag 1/2 full of spinnich.  Things like carrots, potatos, tomatos, onions, etc...  were few and far between.

    I can't imagine other CSAs survive long if that is the norm.  A ratings site that allows the consumers to post experiences/evaluations with different CSAs would be useful for this sort of thing.
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Jim..I agree completely that a ratings system would be helpful. I know I lucked out and joined a fabulous CSA..a small local farm who has never sold produce at retail..only wholesale to local stores. I would be pretty upset at getting poor a variety..and that much kale( since that was the thing I liked the least..lol). My shares always had a huge variety of things..and so much that some weeks I actually gave stuff away.
    I would research a few local CSA's and give it another try. If you didn't live so far, I would recommend the farm I use.
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from pingo. Show pingo's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Miscricket,
    I never joined a CSA, however my son did last year - in PA. He was anxious to get all the veggies "fresh from the farm". Plus it was brought right to him at his workplace.
    His first crate in mid May was apples - freshly harvested apples in May? I don't think so, some spinach, lots and lots of lettuce and a few tomatoes. Have you ever seen freshly harvested tomatoes in this part of the country in May? And yes, lots and lots of kale during the season. Kale is good for you, and he learned to cook kale any which ever way there is. He did get some wonderful sweet corn later in the season, which he brought home when visiting. In that crate, there was also a cantaloupe, that was the sweetest cantaloupe, I have ever tasted.
    He is not signing up this year. Even though he used everything he got, and learned a lot about different vegetables, he thought he paid too much for what was really useful to him. He would rather go to a farmers market and pick up what he needs and like. Believe me, he is done with kale for a while. LOL
    - Pingo


     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from reindeergirl. Show reindeergirl's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    I don't like kale. But I'm doing CSA this year because, for one, they have fabulous pumpkins and heirloom tomatoes (DD loves the latter). I'll be giving away the kale (instead of asking them to omit it), because I have an elderly neighbor on a fixed income who doesn't have a lot of funds for produce.

    Our CSA farm is right here, downtown in my gateway city. Imagine that! :) ~smiles~

    Our local farmer's markert doesn't sell eggs - go figure. I go into the Brookline farmer's market all season for fresh eggs. There's nothing like them, I find. They have a nutty taste, which I like, fresh eggs. I make an afternoon of it, going to Brookline Booksmith with DD and then to JP Licks.

    The Wakefield Farmer's Market looks superb.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    First pickup of the season.. $15 gift certificate to the farm store, two heads greenleaf lettuce, two heads red leaf lettuce(my favorite)..2 bunches of beets ..kale, fresh parsley and rhubarb..and 2 over stuffed quart containers of fresh strawberries ( which I have been snacking on all day).
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e. Show 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Cricket - What happens if you are away for a few weeks during the CSA season?
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    To be honest..if you are away for a few weeks it's probably not worth doing unless you are willing to eat the cost of those missed weeks. The farm I go to will not hold onto your share for extended periods which makes sense since it is all fresh produce. I was away last year for 2 of my pickups...for one..I was gone the whole week so I just arranged for my father to pick it up and keep it for himself. The second time I was just away during the normal pick up time so I arranged for my niece to pick it up and told her to take what she wanted and anything she wouldn't use I would pick up when I got back.

     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e. Show 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Thanks, Cricket! I probably need a CSA partner in order to make it work. I'll just stick to buying local stuff at the farmers' market for now. We are fortunate to have a pretty good one here.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    I agree...and I know several people who share the cost of a..well..share..lol. It works out if there are weeks that you won't use it or if there are definitely things in the box that you won't use. I won't use the rhubarb and got enough of it that I was able to give some to a couple of different people.
     
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    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Thanks. I like rhubarb (but hate kale) so it's good to know that I could do a share at some point.

     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from IheartJohn. Show IheartJohn's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    I have never even heard of it but it sounds like a good idea. Is there a place that you can get a list of partipicipating farms?
     
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    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    @IheartJohn,

    I went to the website www.localharvest.org and used the search to find stuff near Boston. Also, I think a lot of the town sponsored farmer's markets have local produce but you have to figure out which of the stands have the local foods.
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from reindeergirl. Show reindeergirl's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Our local farmers market, to put it bluntly, stinks (not enough vendors). But I shop there to support the farm-hands. Heck, we can't even get fresh-cut flowers there, hence another reason for my trip into Brookline.

    I think part of the problem is that it closes early - before 6pm. If they stayed open until 7 or 8pm, they;d get folks right off the commuter rail, as the farmers market is diagonally across the street from one of the rail's two major entrances/exits.

    But they're trying. Every year, they add a little bit more. Also, it's a pet project pf the Gordon College students, who run the local CSA project on a volunteer basis.

    I also like going to farmers markets on vacation, too - in Provincetown and Chatham, for example, when we're down the Cape.

    I should give CHC my kale, seriously, as she enjoys it.
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from reindeergirl. Show reindeergirl's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    I do find CSA expensive on my small income, it took me a year to save up for it. But I was good, and didn't use that money for anything else. I hope to extend that project-specific savings habit to other areas of my budget.
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from miscricket. Show miscricket's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    Reindeergirl...I agree that the upfront cost is a lot..but over time it is worth it. It seems more painful to pay everything up front but it's also nice not having to pay out  money for fresh vegetables all summer. This past year, I set aside a litte each week with that purpose so it was not nearly as painful.
    So far I've been very happy again this year. Like last year, I find that once the CSA kicks in..my consumption of vegetables increases and that was a really good thing last summer so I am hoping for the same result this summer( without changing anything else, I dropped 15 lbs last summer..just eating more vegetarian meals).
    Finally...I am happy to say that I found a really good recipe for kale..one that I really like ( besides kale soup..lol). So I am eating more kale. I cannot believe the difference a few seasonings makes.
    I agree about the farmers markets..most of them around here are only open during the hours I am at work.
    Too funny about the eggs. The past few months..I've been making a lot more trips down route 114 so have taken to stopping in at Richardson's dairy for milk and eggs.( and..okay..the occasional shake as well..lol) Prior to that I would go to Shaw's dairy in Dracut.
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from farmers2u. Show farmers2u's posts

    Re: Consumer Supported Agriculture

    I work with a Vermont based organization called http://farmerstoyou.com. We are different from a CSA in that members can choose the fresh food they want by Sunday, we pick it up direct from the farmer by Tuesday, then deliver it to Boston neighborhoods by Wednesday and Thursday.

    Boston used to be fed almost entirely by the Northeast food shed. More recently, we’ve grown accustomed to shipping the vast majority of food to Boston from the far reaches of our planet – with questionable results. We're working to re-create a regional food shelf model.

    We have about 150 deliveries a week to Beverly, Cambridge, Somerville (Metro Pedal Power rocks!), Lexington and Salem. While, we would love more members, my goal here is to point out that there is an alternative to a CSA. If you don't want kale, you don't get it. And...you can skip weeks that you are away!

    People love it!
     
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