Why I chose Byrd Farm CSA - 2nd year in a row
By: Natalya Shulgina (Mar 11, 2013)
I preface this review by saying that I rarely write reviews in general, and being in my last months of the dissertation-writing, I don't write anything except what is related to it. But I am writing this review because of the deep respect I have for the people who work on this farm, and because I hope that it might be helpful for somebody who has been "in my shoes."
This is my 4th year of CSA experience, which started because of the diagnosis of an auto-immune condition. In the 1st year, we payed an upfront payment for the weekly share; the produce was good, but by the end of the year I and my husband were getting a bit "tired" of the lack of control we had over the the type/quantities of produce received. (Too many days I had to decide on the spot to can/freeze/dehydrate.)
So, when the 2nd year came around, we chose not to renew, but instead just come to the market and get what we need on the week-to-week basis. This worked well, we got to know different people, different kinds of produce, meats, etc, and there was no upfront payment and weekly commitment. We thought we had found the best way to do CSA -- until we had two bad experiences on the market. On one occasion, we bought a supposedly locally grown cantaloupe that happened to be partially frozen (yes, just like the ones you get at the grocery store) and some tomatoes, one of which had a grocery store sticker on it. On another occasion, we learned that the produce that was sold to us for almost an entire season as "not-sprayed" was in fact treated with fungicides and pesticides.
I do not like writing these things about people who sell "local" produce on RVA markets. And I do realize that growing organic produce is a very risky and costly undertaking. Therefore, I do not argue that "everybody must go organic." However, I do hope for some simple honesty about the ways produce is grown and sold.
This is why I chose Byrd Farm. I know Deb and most of the farm people who come to the marker personally, they know me and my medical condition (now, even if I forget to ask, they themselves alert me to the "conventionally grown" fruit), and I know that I can trust them. This means a lot to me.
Other reasons include the following:
1. Assortment of goods: to my knowledge, they offer the widest collection vegetables, mushroom, fruit, meats, eggs, dairy, honey (and even some delectable chocolate!)
2."Debit system" of payments: no big investment upfront, customers themselves monitor and add funds as needed to their accounts throughout the season
3. Flexibility: what I get is determined not by the farmer, but by what I order in their online store
4. Quality of food: all products are always very fresh (once we overlooked their bag of lettuce in our crisper, and it was fine for 2 weeks!)
5. Customers could suggest the kinds of produce for the farm to plant--and Deb really listens!
Thank you, Byrd! - and I highly recommend Byrd Farm to other customers
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