You can’t get much more local and handmade than a CSA (What is Community Supported Agriculture Anyway?), which is why we are big fans of them in general here at Krrb. Just thinking of another season filled with overflowing baskets full of freshly harvested produce, brought to us weekly by farmers who we have come to know, makes us salivate with excitement.
So we know we’re down with the weekly cornucopia of fruits and veggies, but some of us want eggs too, or even… dare we say it… meat. And then there are those of us who are into getting our hands dirty working at the farms, and others who just want the freshness delivered to our doorstep, thank you very much. Well, we’re all in luck, because there is something for everyone in the CSA universe and we’re here to help you find what you’re looking for. And just in time, too, as the time for signing up is right now.
Following is a list of five very different but equally excellent CSA’s, just to give you all an idea of what’s out there. Plus a good source to help you find something near you, if these spots aren’t close by.
One of the first CSA’s to open it’s doors (or gates, as the case may be) in North America, Temple-Wilton Community Farm was founded by a small group of planters dedicated to the idea of a community supported biodynamic farm. Located in Wilton, New Hampshire, it operates year-round, providing vegetables, eggs, yogurt, bread and meat to over 100 households. Taking the concept of communal to the fullest, they severed the direct link between cash and crop by putting forth a total annual budget and then asking their members to contribute what they can. When the produce is harvested, the distribution is on an as needed basis. And contrary to die hard capitalist doctrine, this system has been flourishing for a quarter of a century.
Every year, the farm takes on a few apprentices who are interested in learning about their growing practices. Looking to join? They are super old school, preferring to be contacted by phone at (603) 654-5751. Ask for Anthony Graham. He can also be reached via e mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Big Mama
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, or hey, even as far afield as Los Angeles, you can take advantage of Farm Fresh To You, the largest and potentially most convenient CSA in the country. Based out of the Capay Organic Farm in Capay, California (approx 30 miles west of Sacramento), this mammoth operation delivers boxes of goodness to over 6000 households year round. There are an endless number of options ranging from 7 lb boxes for around $25 to the gigantic $55 monster mix, which includes over 15 different fruits and veggies– strawberries to avocados and everything in between. You can have your box on a regular basis, or just order one at a time. And you can customize the delivery, thus ensuring that you won’t end up with a giant bunch of rutabaga. Unless you actually know what to do with it, that is.
New Kids On The Block
Fairly new to the CSA game (spring 2007), though old hands in the farmstand biz (since 1987), the Norman’s Farm Market CSA has already made its mark on the Washington, DC scene. With only 4 years under their belt, they have earned quite a reputation and have already sold out many of their 2011 shares! Their 24 week season can be divided into Early, Mid and Late season shares (plus a new 4 week pre-season share that begins May 8) allowing for a more flexible commitment.
Offering a combination of produce from their own farm as well as from the network of farmers that they have built up through their roadside stands and markets, the selection is outstanding, which allows this CSA to give it’s members a wide choice in what they take home. Norman’s Farm Market also offers both a Family membership, designed for 4 people or 2 serious home-cooking vegetarians, and a smaller, less expensive Couples membership. The Obamas are growing their own veggies these days, but if you don’t have access to the White House garden, this looks like a great bet!
Wake Up And Smell The Coffee
All this talk of healthy green veggies making you squirm? Maybe you eat nothing but pizza and jellybeans and like to stay up late making home-produced remixes of the latest dance hits. Wait! we’ve got a CSA for you, too!
The Coffee CSA, out of Davis, California brings the bean right to your doorstep. So you can sip your coffee and dance all night without leaving the house. Founded by the Pachamama Coffee Cooperative, an international cooperative owned by thousands of small scale farmers, this unique and specific CSA offers members a chance to subscribe to a particular farmer or sign up for a 3, 6 or 12 monthly “Farmer of the Month” delivery. The beans are shipped from the farm to the California HQ, roasted and then sent out to subscribers all over the country. You can also pick up your shares, if you’re lucky enough to live nearby. So while this CSA may not be strictly local, it sure is one hell of a community.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Just because you live in the Northeast and have to suffer through winter, does not mean that your CSA experience must end. Southside CSA, right near us in WIlliamsburg, Brooklyn, has a winter share that rocks. Pick ups are monthly, run from November through April, and consist of 6 or 7 items that have been flash frozen by the farms at the height of the growing season (fresh blueberry pancakes in January!) as well as one fresh item, either a root vegetable or fresh micro greens. They also offer an egg share, because the hens keep laying all year long! Plus the pick up location is The Woods, a great local bar, so you can grab a beer and unwind with fellow members while you gather your goodies if you so desire.
A CSA Of One’s Own
Don’t live near any of these fabulous CSA’s but still want to get in on the action? Never fear, there are over 12,000 CSA’s in the US, so there’s bound to be one (or even a few!) nearby. For more general info,and to help in the search, go to localharvet.org and enter your zip code to find a comprehensive listing of CSA’s near you.
Unless otherwise indicated, all of the photographs in this post come directly from the farms they help describe. Just like the delicious food they all produce.