It’s that time of year again. Every Wednesday evening from now until December, I’ll hear my doorbell ring and find a box of locally grown, organic vegetables and/or fruit waiting for me.
Just like a vegetable fairy.
This is my second season being a member of a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. With a CSA, you are buying a share of a farm’s produce. Every CSA is different, but in general this means that you will get a portion of what the farm grows and harvests each week. With my CSA, the produce gets delivered right to my doorstep.
I have loved being a part of a CSA, but like anything, there are pros and cons. I’d like to share the best and the worst of being a member of a CSA for anyone out there on the fence about joining one.
Keep in mind, my experience is limited to one particular CSA, and every farm will have theirs set up a little differently. One feature that my farm includes that many CSA’s do not is a partnership with wholesalers. So our weekly box includes vegetables and/or fruits from their farm and then is supplemented with organic produce from trusted wholesalers. In the summer months it is mostly all home-grown produce, but early in the season there is more from the wholesalers as they only have a few things that grow this time of year.
This makes my CSA a great value as I can always count on a full box and the price is reasonable. (We pay $20 a week for a good sized box of organic produce–the picture you see above is just the greens from a week, not everything that was included that week) You have to investigate the CSA’s in your area and see what kind of features are available.
Since I’d like to end on a good note, I’ll start with the cons. Even though there are cons, I think the pros outweigh them by a long shot.
The Cons of Joining a CSA
- There are forces outside of your control that could damage crops and therefor your share–weather, pests, etc. This is the risk you take in joining a CSA.
- You may get a large quantity of a type of produce that you don’t care for.
- You may get a large quantity of a type of produce that you like, but don’t have enough uses for to use up quickly.
- It may be difficult to use up all of the produce before it goes bad, depending on the produce intake of your family.
The Pros of Joining a CSA
- You are supporting small, local farming.
- You have access to the freshest, most local produce available, which is the most nutritious way to eat.
- You can eat seasonally, again, the most nutritious way to eat.
- You are forced to get creative with preparing fresh fruits and vegetables in order to eat up all the goodness in your share.
- You can learn about new fruits and vegetables you’d never heard of before, like kohlrabi.
- You will likely eat more fresh fruits and vegetables than you normally would.
- You can teach your children about fresh, real food. (We brought Meghan to the farm where we get our produce last summer)
- It’s wonderful for a busy mom having the box delivered right to my door. (Not all CSA’s do this)
- Fresh, seasonal produce tastes so much better than produce that’s traveled across the country to make it to your house.
- For us, it is a great value. Again, every CSA is different.
If you are interested in finding a CSA in your area, this Local Harvest website has the largest database of farms offering CSA’s. Type in your zip code and find out what’s available in your area. You’ll be happy you did!
Question: Are you or have you ever been a part of a CSA? If yes, would you add anything to my pros and cons list? If no, is it something you would consider?