Choosing a CSA

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If you'd like to share your thoughts on our "Choosing a CSA" article, please do so here. We'd love to hear what you think!

By: | Apr 2, 2012 05:19 PM | Permalink
I admit it, I am spoiled rotten.

My company has an arrangement with the (wonderful, fabulous, great...) Mountain View Farm CSA (http://www.mountainviewfarmcsa.com/) whereby our shares (i.e. mine and those of the lucky several dozens of my fellow employees) are delivered to our office every Tuesday during the season.

We simply pick up our shares at the office and bring them home. This season will be the second of this pilot program and I and my family are looking forward to it greatly.

Spoiled in Manhattan, -Steve

By: Carol Stark | Mar 30, 2012 11:22 PM | Permalink
We waited two years to join our CSA, Birds and Bees, south of Portland, OR, and it was well worth the wait. We had a choice of full or half shares, a Monday or a Thursday pickup, and a full year, or by-the-season subscription. We have had a very large assortment of cooking and salad greens, tree and bush fruit and vegetables in season, and storage vegetables all winter. A regular part of our share are chicken eggs from pasture- and orchard-raised chickens. At the beginning of the summer we can pick up spare vegetable starts, and at the end of the summer we also get 2 quarts of honey. Most falls we also have a harvest celebration and can help peel and press apples for our own gallon of apple cider. We love our farmers, John and Bev.

If you don't like your current CSA, try another!

By: | Mar 30, 2012 10:58 PM | Permalink
I was in a CSA a couple of years ago and it was not a good experience. Part the growers fault, bad planning for their first year CSA. Part my fault, difficult pickup time and location. I find that while I like the CSA idea, the execution does not fit my lifestyle. I'm better off buying at my local farmer's markets.

By: BARBARA ROSS | Mar 30, 2012 07:22 PM | Permalink
After one year of a very positive experience, our CSA decided not to continue. To their credit, they found a possible replacement farm. But this has a telephone number indicating that they are about 20 miles east of us, and an address indicating they are about 20 miles west of us. Very confusing, and the replacement doesn't communicate well (or at all!)

So we're back to the farmer's market this year, with high hopes.

By: | Mar 30, 2012 05:44 PM | Permalink
BE CAREFUL! Last year I paid a farm for a half share and was told I would get at least 16, one-half bushels. When I e-mailed questioning when the produce would arrive I would wait days and get a nasty response. I RECEIVED NO VEGETABLES AND NO REFUND. I got the name of the farm off of this organization's web site. Just be very careful before handing over the money.

By: | Mar 30, 2012 05:19 PM | Permalink
I love my CSA. Farm Fresh To You. they work very very hard to do the very best for their customers, and they deliver to your door! When things have been less than great, they have worked very very hard to make them better. they have brought in quality control specialists, and customer service reps who work with the customers to hear their complaints, concerns, and issues, and they come to agreement on what will improve the situation. the only thing I would say at this point, is that their substitution list has become more limited, which can create problems. but that is a small price for the blessing of the amazing produce we receive and the wonderful people who are working with us.

I am thrilled to be supporting these farms, and thrilled by the quality of the organic produce I receive. it's a win win, as far as I'm concerned.

By: Alice Hill | Mar 30, 2012 05:11 PM | Permalink
I would like to voice a concern that I have had in running a CSA - a viewpoint from a grower: My daughters and I worked untold hours planting, weeding and harvesting to supply our customers with beautiful baskets of produce. On harvest mornings we would be up at dawn to gather items at their freshest. We rinsed everything under cool, running well water and put the individual baskets in an airconditioned room covered with damp clean sheets to maintain their quality. When it was time to deliver to town we precooled the car - an SUV with good space in the back so that the baskets weren't overcrowded - and again covered the vegetables with damp sheets. However, many of our customers would not be home at the predetermined delivery time and would not have a cooler (as requested when this happened) available for the vegetables to be put in. We would do our best to find a shaded spot to leave the baskets, but we had no idea how long it might be before the customer retrieved their delivery. When we asked for comments regarding the CSA, some of those same customers complained about the quality of the food delivered. A very important part of success for both ends of a CSA is proper harvesting, storage and accountability. We now require people to come to our farm and encourage folks to bring coolers with cold packs during the hot months.

By: | Mar 30, 2012 04:45 PM | Permalink
I used a CSA for the first time last year when health problems made it too difficult for me to garden. The major difficulties I encountered were in what I'll call communication. To begin with, when I called for info. in the Spring, they were vague about the details of what they planned to offer & the expected prices. But because my daughter had used a CSA a few years ago, I knew some of the questions to ask them; otherwise I'd been left in the dark about how a CSA worked. This particular CSA didn't have a regular pick up day or time - you just called & left a message & waited for them to call you back to arrange a pick up. There have been times in the past when I may have appreciated such a laid back attitude, but in my present situation, I found that more inconvenient than having a definite date & time. Another disappointment was that I had been counting on putting up green beans. Their first crop failed due to bad weather which I certainly can't fault them for, but they promised to replant and harvest a second crop, so I didn't look for an alternate source for beans. But when the 2nd planting was ready to harvest in late August, they told me that their pickers had all returned to school and they couldn't find anyone to pick them. They have been farming for a couple of decades, so I was puzzled why they didn't anticipate this when they planted a 2nd crop & told me they'd have beans available later in the summer. Instead, presumably the beans went to waste in the fields and I was left having to finish out the year with an overabundance of winter squashes. They also promised tomatoes for canning. When I went to pick them up, they were in terrible shape, really only fit for the compost pile. I was told that these were "canning" tomatoes. I have been canning for 30 years and have never canned rotting produce. Unfortunately, this is the only CSA within reasonable driving distance in my part of the country, but I wouldn't use them again.

By: | Mar 30, 2012 04:21 PM | Permalink
We had a good thing going--our csa was within half a mile of our home. It had continued at least three years; then we got an email one day that it would not continue this year--bummer.

By: | Mar 30, 2012 03:12 PM | Permalink
My "problem" with local CSA offers, is that the contents are half or more filled with produce I already have in my own garden. And things I want/need (like eggs) are available only as "add ons", if at all.
Mark's family says:    (Mar 30, 2012 12:00 AM)

I know it doesn't speak to the general situation, but I do have one example. Breezy Willow Farm, in Sykesville, MD, offers eggs and other items in addition to a wide variety of produce. These are included in the standard CSA subscription.


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