When my husband and I bought our house almost two years ago, I had grand visions of beautiful gardens. I wanted to have beautiful plants growing all spring, summer, and fall. I wanted to have an herb garden for sure and eventually plant a real vegetable garden. Let’s just say that there have been many trials with our yard in general (slugs, moss, mold, acidic soil, and so on), and I have not even planted an herb or vegetable garden. Instead I have become intrigued with the idea of CSA farms.
The general premise of the CSA (community supported agriculture) is that food buyers pay for a “share” in the farm in the winter/spring, to provide start-up capital for farmers to buy seed, fertilizer, etc. When the crops produce food, the food buyer receives a certain amount per week during the harvesting season. The benefit is fresh, seasonal, locally grown produce that you have already paid for. The hazards would be if it were a poor growing season. However, since many people have invested in the farm, the farmer doesn’t bear the full brunt of any loss, and most good CSA farms produce a variety of food. If one crop doesn’t have a great harvest, something else might be growing like crazy.
I decided last winter that I wanted to join a CSA. But I didn’t get my act together, and I wasn’t able to sign up for any programs when I got serious about it in June.
So here is my public service announcement for today: if you are interested in belonging to a CSA farm, SIGN UP NOW! Many farms are getting there programs set up in January, so there are plenty of spots available. If you search around, you could probably find a couple of farms in your area with a variety of pick up times, costs, payment schedules, etc. If you want the best selection of options, you need to get on it now.
One of my most important criteria is convenient pick-up times. I commute about 30 minutes each way to work, and a lot of the farms aren’t open at the times when I would be able to get there. Finding a farm with convenient pick-up times is really key to whichever farm I will pick.
In my area, a “full share” costs about $500 and a “half share” costs about $300. That’s a lot of money to put up front, I think, but the price for the whole summer (20 weeks or so at most farms) is inexpensive. Anyway to get around the high initial cost, some places allow you to put a deposit down with full payment due before May or June. So if money is an issue, check around at different farms in your area and see what they have to offer for payment plans.
Another criterion to consider is whether or not the farm is organic. This is extremely important to some people and less important to others. Either way, there are options, so just keep this in mind.
After some internet searching, I finally found an awesome deal. I was able to find one farm that had a Saturday morning pick up time as well as one weeknight with a later pick up time. An added bonus is that it’s only about eight miles from my house, so if I wanted to, I could bike there on Saturdays. How awesome would that be? They also offer a reasonable payment schedule that worked for me. I sent in my deposit today. I am thrilled at the prospect of delicious food this summer, and I hope to share lots of beautiful pictures of the farm and my bike rides to pick up food!