Farmers markets are a delightful way to shop, but some people find it difficult to fit visiting the market each week into their busy schedules. Joining a farm’s community-supported agriculture (CSA) program or a local produce delivery service is a smart alternative for buying local, fresh produce. CSA program members commit to a farm for an entire season and, in return, receive a weekly or biweekly share of fruits and vegetables. Members receive copious amounts of delicious produce, and the farm has a built-in customer base.
Each farm distributes a sampling of its seasonal harvest in each basket, though members should be forewarned that while many farms make accommodations for food allergies, the farms aren’t able to customize bundles according to food preferences. Households that favor only green beans and broccoli may not be pleased with a box full of kale, chard and beets.
On the other hand, some enjoy the challenge of making the best of their farm bounty, which often includes fruit and vegetable varieties unavailable in grocery stores. As a courtesy, farms often provide helpful tips, suggestions and recipes to complement their weekly shares, and to help encourage members to think outside their CSA boxes.
Local produce delivery services such as The Bountiful Sprout, Farmhouse Delivery and Greenling aggregate their weekly inventory from several area farms and allow customers to add meat, dairy and pantry items to the order. While not traditional CSA programs, these services provide additional flexibility to the customer while expanding the reach of the farms.
Consider a few key questions as you evaluate farm programs. First, can your household eat a full share, typically enough to feed four people, in a week? If not, find a friend to split a share with, or find a farm service that offers half or biweekly shares for smaller households. Second, can you pick up your share, or do you need delivery? Most farms offer various pick-up locations to their members, and a few deliver to homes or offices for a small surcharge. And finally, before making a commitment, visit the farms you’re interested in and ask questions about their farming methods and what they’re planning to grow that season.
If you do your homework and pick a farm or service that’s a good match for your needs, you’ll receive fresh, healthful foods and invest in the future of local farming—money well spent!
Bikkurim Farms (Blue)