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Old 08-20-2012, 02:11 PM   #1
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Does anyone belong to a CSA?

I came across this organic farm in my area which is part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group. I'm thinking about signing up for it, at least on a trial basis, but wondered if any of you beautiful JUDDDers had experience with a CSA, and what your thoughts are.

Basically, they pick and box up a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, all depending on the season and what's growing, then deliver it to a site to be picked up by the members. They have two different size packages from which to choose, and the produce is boxed and delivered weekly.

I have only a couple of concerns: Will we use it all up? We're eating more veggies, but not knowing exactly what's coming will make it difficult to do any advanced meal planning. Is it worth the cost? It's not terribly expensive IF we use all the produce, but if a good chunk of it's going to waste, then it's probably not worth the money. I'll have to remember to go to my designated pick up site every week, regardless of whatever else is going on. Lastly, since I'm not choosing the produce, I can't ensure it's ripe enough or too ripe.

Pros: I may try things I wouldn't normally purchase. I may be more inclined to cook and eat at home rather than going out so much.

I've pretty much decided to do the one month trial, and go from there, but would like any input from experienced CSA members.
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:34 PM   #2
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A group was getting together last spring for this, and I thought about it, but decided against it because we have wonderful Farmer's Markets here somewhere almost every single day from early May until the end of October, and then a weekly indoor Market during the cold weather months that sells eggs and honey, jellies and canning, baked goods, etc.

I decided instead of having to take what was handed out each week in my share, I wanted to just pick and choose the fresh produce I wanted at the time I wanted it, directly from a farmer's stall. No sense in getting even MORE beets this week when we hadn't eaten all those we received in our share last week. If the kale is chewed on at one Farmer's Booth, I can pass on to another one and see how their kale has fared. I can take home just those veggie choices or whatever that I'd like to work into our menu this week.

Also, it's just the two of us here, so if I get too much of some produce, that means we'll have to be eating heavy on it and be missing out on all the huge variety of produce that is also out there, part of the summer fresh foods experience. I'm not going to be canning up excess *stuff* so I just want a little of a lot of things, all fresh each week or every few days. That works best for us.

If you decide to get into this, I'll be interested in hearing how it works out for you.
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Old 08-20-2012, 02:54 PM   #3
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Yes, I belong to a CSA. Colorado has a very limited growing season, and we don't grow all that much, so this summer I've gotten a LOT of chard. I've learned many new recipes for chard. In my CSA you have a little bit of choice, so if you see something on the list that you know you won't eat, you can swap it out (for more chard!) One hint: Learn to love vegetable soup. I typically take anything that's been sitting in the fridge for more than a few days, chop it up, add chicken broth, and make soup. I usually puree it with a stick blender. This is also really good for DDs, because it's filling and not too calorie-heavy.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:10 PM   #4
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we participate..some friends of ours own an organic csa that you go to and pick.
I have purchased from two boxed organic produce delivery services, wasn't super impressed. One pick it up at a storefront service, the produce was okay but not all as local or ripe as I wanted.
My preference is to hit a local shop that specializes in fresh local organic in season, we have a couple here, plus any of the city markets bringing agriculture into town. I do love bicycling to the outdoor market, dragging my basket around, then forcing hubby to haul home a flat of berries I couldn't resist
YMMV Can you do a trial run or buy a box every two or three weeks instead of every week so you can get a feel for it?
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:27 PM   #5
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I was a member in FL and signed up for the every two weeks box. I am single person so can be overwhelmed sometimes, especially in spring when there's tons of lettuce, greens and not much else.
Some have eggs so that's a bonus.

We had times when there was citrus as well so eventually there was more variety.

Spring vegies in cal should include broccoli and other crucifers. It may be a good idea to ask.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:40 PM   #6
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I ended up signing up for the 1 month trial, and got the small box since it's just the 3 of us. I will let you all know how it goes. I won't get my first box until next Tuesday. I'm kind of excited, and hoping not to be disappointed. Here in the central valley, we have tons of agriculture, but our farmers markets are not so great, so I'm hoping this will be better.

Thanks for all the suggestions and your valuable experiences.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:57 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeirasMom View Post
I ended up signing up for the 1 month trial, and got the small box since it's just the 3 of us. I will let you all know how it goes. I won't get my first box until next Tuesday. I'm kind of excited, and hoping not to be disappointed. Here in the central valley, we have tons of agriculture, but our farmers markets are not so great, so I'm hoping this will be better.

Thanks for all the suggestions and your valuable experiences.
That's really so disappointing. I just love our markets here. Some days are small gatherings, perhaps only a couple dozen stands, and at some in the parks there are people selling out of the trunks of their cars as well, or perhaps it's a farmer's wife who is selling apple pies made from the apples she gathered from their own trees and baked to bring. On the first Saturday of each month there is one that goes on for blocks, right in the center of town.

I think signing for just a month is a great idea. I'll look forward to reading about what all you get in your first share.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:04 PM   #8
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Farmer's markets have certain advantages, but CSA is a great way to support your local farmers. They get a somewhat reliable income, regardless of weather, bugs, etc. I have lots of farmer friends who run CSAs.

I belonged to a CSA a while back, and the winter crops got a little monotonous...too many rutabagas & parsnips...sigh!!! But as the years went on, they added winter greenhouses, so we'd get greens. They also made sauerkraut, and freshly-ground cornmeal.

I learned about so many new veggies & herbs, and had to get creative to use them! If you don't get "enough" of something one week, freeze it and save up til you get enough for a meal.

And if you get "extra", you may enjoy freezing or canning it for when it's out of season.

I definitely preferred the spring & summer shares to the fall & winter ones, but the growing season in CA is probably very different than NJ's!

I hope you like it!!!
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:47 PM   #9
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Update

1st box was delivered last Tuesday and included the following:
1 eggplant
6 Italian sweet frying peppers
2 sweet onions
2 heads of summer lettuce
8 Yukon gold potatoes
2 large tomatoes
2 crookneck squash
2 hot chile peppers
1 bunch Thompson seedless grapes
2 sun plums

We ate it all over the course of the week and it was all good, except the tomatoes were not the best. There wasn't anything I wouldn't have normally purchased other than the sweet frying peppers, and I used those in a couple of stir-fry dishes.

This week's box included:

1 sprig of fresh Rosemary
2 sweet Spanish peppers
8 Roma tomatoes
2 onions
1 head of summer lettuce
1 box brimming with Kadota figs
3 Bartlett pears
2 Gala apples

I'm more excited about this box. I haven't had fresh figs since I was a little girl, and had forgotten how wonderful they are. I love Roma tomatoes, and will gladly use up the other items. Everything this week appears to be fresh and ripe and beautiful.

Last night, for dinner, I made a really good creamy chicken crock-pot concoction and there are tons of leftovers. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's (UD) dinner, where I'm planning on adding some coconut milk, curry powder, and figs to the left-overs. DH thinks I'm crazy, but it sounds good to me.

2 more weeks until we decide if we're going to become full members, or let our trial run out.
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:52 PM   #10
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Oh, I'm glad you updated. I'd forgotten about this, and it was fun to read the list of what you got each week. So far it looks pretty good, except for me.. there were too many various peppers.

How did you think the quality was compared to what you might have selected at a local Farmer's Market? And did you think *the price was right* for what you received. I've no doubt the produce was much fresher than what you'd have found in your local grocery store, but then there is not a lot of nutritional loss during storage of some things so that is maybe neither here nor there.

Have a wonderful meal with the figs added in. I think it sounds good too.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:11 PM   #11
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The quality was comparable to anything I've found at farmer's markets, and honestly more variety in that one box than most of the farmer's markets around here offer. Our sad farmer's markets are literally about 8 stalls and half of those are not produce. I live in one of the biggest agricultural areas in the world and find it very sad that we have such crummy markets.

The price isn't too bad with all that we're getting. It's $15 per week for the small box (which I get) or $20 per week for the larger box, which has the same items but more of them, and a couple of extra items added in.

I love that the farm includes a newsletter with each box, describing the items in that week's box along with recipes and history of certain crops, as well as what vitamins and other nutrients each item has and storage tips. They also include a price list where you can call and order additional items for the following week, on top of what comes standard. They have everything from organic eggs to any variety of fruits and vegetables, rice, coffee, nuts, olive oil, etc.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:19 PM   #12
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This does sound very nice. You aren't overloaded with produce, and you do get a pretty decent variety, rather than having a week where you're buried beneath zucchini and tomatoes and very little else.

I'm so surprised you don't have great freshly harvested produce markets there. Are you going to continue with this program?
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:28 PM   #13
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Dawn, I just spent a couple of days on an organic farm that supplies both CSA boxes and organic restaurants in Toronto. I left with a trunk full of fabulous stuff.
What I appreciated was the enormous pride they have in providing the rest of us with good food, including heritage tomatoes, etc.- stuff we could never have if it weren't for these guys.
It made me really happy to support them, and really glad your experience has been good.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:32 PM   #14
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so thrilled you are getting things you will use sweetheart

we have a brand new family owned and operated health food store specializing in local organic produce, local pastured meats, raw milks and all at reasonable prices. makes me so happy that there is a shift in the marketplace that accommodates eating and living better
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joyjoy View Post
Dawn, I just spent a couple of days on an organic farm that supplies both CSA boxes and organic restaurants in Toronto. I left with a trunk full of fabulous stuff.
What I appreciated was the enormous pride they have in providing the rest of us with good food, including heritage tomatoes, etc.- stuff we could never have if it weren't for these guys.
It made me really happy to support them, and really glad your experience has been good.
I love the heritage tomatoes! I'd always thought a tomato was a tomato. It wasn't until I thought it would be a hoot to eat some of those weird looking things and bought some from a market booth that offered heritage veggies that I found out how delicious some of them are!

I'm a very big market fan.
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Old 09-05-2012, 03:05 PM   #16
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Dawn it sound great to me. I can't subscribe to any similar UK box schemes,
because I am 'lucky' enough to have 2 homes. I love the sound of both weeks so far.
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Old 09-05-2012, 03:21 PM   #17
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I've done bountiful baskets - it's a co-op and in a lot of areas. You can google them. You pick up a box of fruit and veggies early on Saturday morning (order by Monday or Tuesday). I think it's 15 for regular and 25 for organic. They sometimes have extras you can buy, like a crate of apples or 5 lbs of strawberries. I don't get one every week - tough for the two of us, but it is fun to figure out what to do with some of the items. The only think I couldn't do anything with was the celery root - I had a recipe, but got lazy. You can freeze most anything you don't use too. I like it sometimes.
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