Author Topic: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?  (Read 6828 times)

OmahaSteph

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CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« on: December 29, 2015, 10:56:19 AM »
The search function is giving me fits, so apologies if this has been discussed before.

Has anyone had either good or bad experiences with a CSA? I'm already looking forward to spring and wondering if it would make both health (duh) and financial sense to buy a share. The local one also offers meat, cheese, organic egg and bread add-ons.

Basic math tells me that this is probably a really good idea and would cut way down on the junk buying, plus possibly save gas. I'd probably have to invest in a chest freezer, but those are pretty abundant on Craigslist.

Thoughts?

asiljoy

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2015, 12:05:59 PM »
We use one. I split a full share with a work buddy because there is way too much food to feed one family/if we're not there to pick up one week, the buddy is. It breaks down to about 22 dollars a week and we get a case of local organic veggies/fruit/herbs. Beware, you need to be very flexible in meal planning and have back up ideas for that week you get 22 cucumbers, or quite a bit of it will go to waste. Maybe yours will be different, but what we get is a reflection of what is growing well for the farmer that week; sometimes it is squash, sometimes arugula, and sometimes, you'll get a case of just cucumbers.

sweettea

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2015, 12:27:38 PM »
I used to work as a CSA distributor for one of the larger organic farms in MA, so I've seen about 80 CSA shares.

1) In my experience, it was a 30% savings off the retail price, already sometimes somewhat less than the grocery store price.
2) It's a tossup whether coming on the early side or the late side of the pickup window will get you more. A good CSA will not change the share partway through the day, but it's hard to get that right if customers are picking up their own shares; toward the end of the day, you may get more of something than other people, but you may also get less variety. If you don't like the size of your CSA after a few weeks, try coming at a different time.
3) It's generally a lot of food, but not always quite what I want. If your CSA has a swap box at the pickup, use it! I, for instance, want fewer eggplants and more kale/chard in general; sometimes the swapbox lets me do that.
4) Expect more leafy veggies than you want in the spring, more fruits than you want in the summer, and more roots than you want in the fall. Take it as an opportunity to be badass and eat with the seasons, rather than let it go to waste. Also, if you just can't avoid wasting it, take less: there's nothing that says you have to take the full CSA membership every time, and many farms donate the leftovers to a homeless-feeding initiative, which is way better than you composting or trashing them.

Your mileage may vary. I would have a CSA share, except that I grow all my own greens and bulk-purchase roots and winter squash these days.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2015, 12:45:48 PM »
We had one for 3 consecutive years from 3 separate farms, and in the end, it just wasn’t worth it.

Farm 1: Non-certified organic, only grew for CSA members so we got all the excess (think 90 winter squashes sitting around by the end of the season) rather than them selling it off at farmers markets/etc.. Produce was the more standard varieties, delicious but some items came really filthy (potatoes caked in dirt). Pick up location was annoying and further away than our grocery store. Felt “connected” to the farm despite never visiting it.

Farm 2: Certified organic (expensive!), grew for CSA/FarmersMarket/GroceryStores so  I never felt we got excess bounty since they could just sell more elsewhere. Lots of crazy items that made us spend even more money at grocery store to round out the meals and fewer staple items.  Pick up location was in a members unheated garage which was just annoying (crazy hot in summer and super cold in winter). Did get to partake in an autumn party at the farm where we got to go out in the field and pick “free” pumpkins. Also learned how unbelievably good fresh picked asparagus tastes. And we had a random deal in the season to purchase ½ gallons of organic local maple syrup (from a neighboring farm of theirs) for like $20. Awesome! Felt “connected” to the farm.

Farm 3: Non-certified organic, again grew for more than just CSA so excess got siphoned off. More staple items and convenient pick up location in our neighborhood grocery store so it. For whatever reason, we never felt “connected” to the farm.

In all instances, the value wasn’t there for us for a number of reasons.
1) With a set in stone pickup time, it was a hassle with vacations and other events in the busy summer time.
2) Getting stuck with produce that we just don’t like, such as parsnips! We are very adventurous and non-picky eaters, but some things just aren’t good. The swap box rarely helped.
3) The annoyance of still needing to visit the grocery store, and the fact that the CSA came in middle of week rather than at the start of the week when we grocery shop resulted in us always feeling disjointed and constantly food shopping.
4) It is cheaper than buying all organic at the co-op, but we weren’t doing that anyways. If you’re 100% committed to local/organic regardless of cost, it makes more sense.
5) It added, rather than removed, hassle from our life.

My advice is to really look at the pickup location and any flexible arrangements (skip week, etc.) they offer. Don't do a certified organic as they are overpriced compared to the non-certified organic. Don't do it unless you are committed to extreme variety. Don't do it if you aren't passionate about where you food comes from. The occasional splurge on local spinach/asparagus/ramps/watermelon at the co-op or farmers market, and Aldi's for the rest has been a much more economical and hassle free strategy for us.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 08:35:34 AM by StacheInAFlash »

StacheInAFlash

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2015, 12:57:57 PM »
One more thing. Maybe the TheGoblinChief will chime in on his own, but if not, take a look at his MMM journal or his blog as I know he was less than pleased with his 1st experience this past year.

spruce

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2015, 01:21:45 PM »
We used to belong to a great one in NC, offered individual, couple, and family shares for $12-20/week. They sent out an email at the beginning of each week and you could pick how you wanted to spend your weekly money. They had flour, meat, and eggs as well as produce. If we were going to be out of town we just got meat that week that we could throw in the freezer.  I loved it, but now we have other meat sources and our own garden. Definitely do your research, as there are a lot of farms offering this type of arrangement now, or even farms that partner in a CSA so you can get a variety of goods.

I do think we ended up eating more veggies and saving money but I didn't keep careful track so can't say for sure.

OmahaSteph

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2015, 01:45:33 PM »
Wonderful perspectives -- thanks!

The one I'm looking at really seems to have its shit together. They deliver packed bags to a local grocery chain (who also uses their stuff) and there are a number of farms participating, so there's variety. I just joined my local Buy Nothing Project group, so I'm thinking I could give away any excess stuff I can't use, or share with co-workers (or re-sell using the internal bulletin board).

I'll have to look into the "skip week" thing ... though I do have a neighbor/co-worker who is also a foodie and used to belong to this particular CSA. She'd probably be happy to pick up the share if I were out of town.

Off to read the blog StacheInAFlash linked...

sweettea

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2015, 02:03:09 PM »
...some items came really filthy (potatoes caked in dirt).

Potatoes actually keep better unwashed, but I did once try a CSA from another farm that had some unwashed lettuce and that was pretty unfortunate... they needed to get their head lettuce culture down better so it didn't have so much dirt.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2015, 02:08:27 PM »
...some items came really filthy (potatoes caked in dirt).

Potatoes actually keep better unwashed, but I did once try a CSA from another farm that had some unwashed lettuce and that was pretty unfortunate... they needed to get their head lettuce culture down better so it didn't have so much dirt.

Yeah, I know potatoes and a lot of other produce is best left unwashed until cooking time, but this was seriously ridiculous. Like, I had to hose them off outside as I didn't want to put that much mud down the drain. To be fair, they weren't always that bad, but there were a few ridiculous weeks there where I believe they were out picking in the rain (God bless them) the day before delivery and they just were caked in mud that then dried and was left on. All the lettuce mixes at the 1st and 3rd CSAs were also unwashed. I did get spoiled with that 2nd farm and their squeeky clean produce. The joy of not having to spin my own greens!

TomTX

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2015, 02:15:00 PM »
We did a CSA for 6 months, and it was fine - but really not any cost savings over the grocery store, fair amount of WTF moments (6 fairly woody kohlrahbi is an example) and the pickup spot was inconvenient both in location (twice as far as grocery store) and that it was just someone's side yard. In Texas in the summer, you don't want your veggies just sitting around outside very long.

We didn't regret doing it, but decided not to continue.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2015, 02:21:26 PM »

We didn't regret doing it, but decided not to continue.

Exactly! I didn't actually say that in my initial post, but this was really how we felt after 3 years of trying to make it work. I don't regret it, and in fact I learned about some awesome new foods, but it just isn't for us at this point in our lives.

monstermonster

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2015, 02:26:53 PM »
I've been doing different CSA's as a split-share (half-share) for years. I love them.

At my current one, I spend $250/year and get enough produce to not have to buy any produce to supplement from June - November (late growing season here) and a coupon for one loaf of fresh-baked bread from a local bakery each week (you also get a coupon for the artisanal butcher that is the pick-up spot but I don't eat meat so I don't use it.) It brings down my grocery bill by a greater amount than I pay for it in those months, plus I get to get local fresh produce instead of MegaCorp produce. The long, rambly weekly letters from the farmer were also a treat. The pickup is one 1/2 block from my house - when I've had ones that are 3+ miles away, it gets harder to rearrange my schedule to pick up on weeks when things are weird.

I definitely eat more veggies with the CSA than I do without.

I look forward to the Oh My God so much zucchini/squash challenges, though, as an adventurous cook. BUT I will say that the frustrating thing was we didn't find out what was in our farm share until the morning of our pickup day (Wednesday) even though we do all our meal planning on Sunday. So we'd put placeholders in for Weds-Saturday like "stirfry with mystery CSA veggies" and "Mac and cheese with mystery CSA veggies".


MayDay

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2015, 02:27:31 PM »
We did it once.  We swapped with a friend, so we each picked up every other week.  This worked well for vacation planning, and also just to keep the volume of veggies manageable. 

Major advantages:  Getting to/having to try a whole bunch of new veggies we had never eaten before.  Giving a farm a cash infusion in the spring to buy seeds, pay spring labor, etc.

Major advantages:  Financially it was not a great deal.  At best it was a wash.

I also now work for a different organic farm.  They have both farmers market booths and a CSA program.  I have a fairly good eye for how much veggies cost, and I feel you were almost always better off just spending 30$ a week or whatever on veggies from the market stand.  Sometimes having the CSA got you extra good stuff, sometimes they didn't have enough for the CSA so they just sold it at market instead.  So a mixed bag on that.  CSA people do get to come out to the farm and pick some labor-intensive stuff for free (can't make money on green beans except for you-pick!).  For us, I find just allocating a weekly budget to farmers market veggies works better.  That way I don't end up with 1 fennel bulb from the CSA, but the recipe needs two, so now I have to go track down another bulb of fennel, and other issues like that.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 02:29:22 PM by MayDay »

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2015, 03:12:28 PM »
I love our CSA so much. It is way cheaper than the farmer's market, though not cheaper than buying conventionally grown vegetables in the grocery store. But if getting local, organic food is important to you I think CSAs are the way to go. Plus, everything we get was picked the day before and is notably fresher, sweeter, crisper, etc. Our friends comment on it when they come for dinner (and who ever compliments lettuce?).

Our CSA is year round, and some weeks we get so much produce that it's a battle for 2 adults to finish it all (especially in winter, when it is big bunches of leafy greens and root veggies). We eat a ton of vegetables. Generally, it's 8-10 items for $20, about 7-10 pounds. When it was just me I swapped every week with a friend. Our CSA has expanded my cooking repertoire immensely. Just a few weeks ago I was commenting to my husband that we routinely eat fruits and vegetables I'd never even heard of before a few years ago.

Eating seasonal has it's ups and downs. I like almost all vegetables, but there are moments when I think, how many radishes, turnips, and persimmons can one person eat? But, on the flip side, we get the best heirloom tomatoes all summer long. Nothing is as good as fresh peas and leeks and asparagus in the spring. The oranges, which we get all winter, are the best I've ever had, as are the peaches in the summer. The carrots are so sweet and crisp that they don't even need to be peeled, let alone cooked.  So I say, if you can find a good one go for it!

CanuckExpat

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2015, 03:31:18 PM »
We did a CSA for a few years that we really liked. The things that made it work really well for us:

Pick up location was at my work. I could walk over in the afternoon and pick the stuff up.

We split a share with someone else, so the amount of veggies was more manageable. If we were gone a week, or just for a pick-up date, share partner (also on site) could pick up for me and vice versa. Having a share partner made it easy to swap vegetables with each other if one of us didn't like something. CSA also had an onsite swap box if we ended up with something neither of us wanted that much of.

Loved it overall. It was probably a bit more pricey then buying regular groceries. Cheaper than buying similar organic veggies from farmers market.
We got veggies I wouldn't have tried otherwise, and because everything was local and picked at peak ripeness, the taste was incredible. I've never had arugula as flavorful and peppery as that ever again :(

seattlecyclone

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2015, 03:50:24 PM »
We did one for a few years here in Seattle before the farm quit offering it. It was all organic, the "small" share ended up costing something like $20/week, and gave me and my wife all the fruits and veggies we could eat during a week. We probably spend more for less produce now that we quit the CSA. I should look into if there are any other convenient, inexpensive ones in the area.

kimmarg

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2015, 06:55:35 PM »
I have a winter CSA and I love it. It keeps me eating fresh veggies in winter where they would be expensive for crummy quality in the store. The cost is less than I'd pay for similar quality items (fresh, organic) but more than i could do sticking to the cheapo grocery store. Because it increases the food budget I consider it a splurge but I find it really worth it. I eat more veggies this way and it's values I support.  Mine is delivered to a pick up location near my house in a box so no problems picking it up. 

I also did a meat CSA this year and I may never go back. Definitely pricey but SOOO much better. I decided I'd rather have the good quality meat less often than the grocery store stuff. ....

kimmarg

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2015, 06:58:40 PM »
Eating seasonal has it's ups and downs. I like almost all vegetables, but there are moments when I think, how many radishes, turnips, and persimmons can one person eat?

CSAs do tend to get heavy on the in season items but I find is a challenge to try new stuff and it keeps me eating seasonally.

as an aside I'm so jealous of the persimmons! I had never seen or eaten one until I visited San Diego last fall and I found them delicious. (had to ask an amused farmers market vendor how to eat them) Wish I could get them in northern New England....

Axecleaver

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #18 on: December 29, 2015, 07:37:46 PM »
I used CSA's before I started growing all my own produce. I had great experiences. CSA's are risk-sharing financial constructs which let you share risk with the farmer. When the farmer has a good year, you get more food. When he has a bad year, you get less. That's how it is supposed to work, but some CSA's sell the excess to markets, which I don't like at all. You can make your own choices about the farm's policy.

Pro:
- Much higher quality produce
- farm to table experience, the good ones publish blogs or talk to you when you go, so you're connected to the food.
- If you use what you get, you'll save money.
- My CSA had a "bruise box" with beat up produce free for the taking. Take what you can use. I got a full bushel of bruised and overripe peaches in the peak of the season which nobody wanted, took them home, carved out all the bruises and made about two gallons of peach/lime daiquiries for the neighborhood.

Con:
- Can be a hassle to get stuff you have no idea how to use. This can be a pro, too, if you're open to expanding your horizons a little. I got a "cushaw" in my share in Virginia. Had to google that, but turned out to be one of my new favorite winter squashes ever. I miss those now that I moved back North.
- Bit of a hassle to show up at the pickup spot during a tight window

StarBright

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2015, 08:06:50 AM »
I would say it depends on the CSA.

We did the same one in Baltimore for a few years and really loved it. Pick up was Saturday morning at the farmers market and we got to choose 8 items (1 item might be a box of 5 zucchini, or a pound of strawberries might count as 2 items) from whatever they had that week. Because we were already at the market we usually ended up doing a majority of our shopping there. I don't know that it saved us money but the produce was excellent and we learned to eat seasonally and I became someone who cooks from scratch.

We moved to NC and did a few different CSAs.  I don't know if it was the CSAs that stopped working for us or just us (we had two babies while in NC) but we stopped trying after a couple of years. Additionally the triangle area also has a huge "farm to table" restaurant scene and I always felt like we got the remnants after the restaurants had had their pick. In one particularly egregious case the farm owners bought a restaurant about halfway through our CSA season and the quality of the produce diminished dramatically, some weeks we got no produce at all.

I think they can ultimately save money as they encourage scratch cooking but it is a commitment and very area dependent. I would encourage you to give it a shot for one season.

JPinDC

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2015, 08:14:44 AM »
We had a CSA this summer. Ours was delivered to our house and we enjoyed getting creative with new stuff, but we also ended up with huge quantities of stuff that we didn't really want. The bottom line for us is that we have a great local farmer's market that runs year round and a Whole Foods -- both within walking distance -- and we won't be doing a CSA again. If one or both of those wasn't the case, we would probably consider it again, but change farms.

mm1970

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2015, 10:51:22 AM »
I've been a CSA member for 15 years now.  When we started, I think we joined the only one in town. Now there are several, plus some delivery companies that essentially go to the farmer's market for you - thus, you get more variety.

I really like it.  The few times that I priced it out, it was equivalent to the grocery store conventional produce, and much much less than organic.  (Our CSA is organic). There is really no comparison for taste and how well it lasts.  The head lettuces would often last 2-3 weeks in the fridge if we didn't get to them.

Alas, this year with the drought, our CSA closed 6 weeks early and they have not said if they will start up again next year.  I may switch to a delivery service in that case.

It will vary on the CSA and farm.  I've found that with ours, you cannot be picky - you get whatever they grow.  Much more variety.  Others let you pick and choose.

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2016, 11:36:24 AM »

as an aside I'm so jealous of the persimmons! I had never seen or eaten one until I visited San Diego last fall and I found them delicious. (had to ask an amused farmers market vendor how to eat them) Wish I could get them in northern New England....

We are inundated with persimmons every fall. They are a low maintenance kind of tree, so everyone in CA has them. I've seen persimmons popping up in markets more and more, so it wouldn't surprise me if they were more available in your neck of the woods in the next couple of years.

cavewoman

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2016, 11:51:31 AM »
One of my great and long time friends started a CSA.  We participated when we lived in the area for a summer. 

She sold full and half-shares, but we did ours in exchange for work.  Normally she would only let someone work for half a share, but I had that hook-up, you know?

It was my favorite thing ever.  I had a hard time buying veggies I didn't know about before, so it was always broccoli, peas, carrots, etc.  Now I know what rainbow chard is and how to use it!

I also loved the time we were on the farm.  I'd never gardened or anything before.  We mostly picked weeds (it was small, non-certified organic).  But it was good time outdoors with my boyfriend, my farmer friend, and her kid, and we always had a blast.

The best part was hanging out for beers and food after the sun went down.  Well, the veggies and learning was really really great, but the time with my friend is the part I miss the most.

MsPeacock

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2016, 01:17:46 PM »
I have done two different CSAs, in two different states. One required that we work 30 hours per year. I personally loved the farm time and adored the owner. I love to garden and was quite happy to show up more than 30 hours and weed and haul stuff. However, the CSA was really struggling and eventually the shares became smaller and smaller and we were paying something like $35 a week (which included delivery) for a very small amount of vegetables. There were a lot of oddities like lambsquarters (delicious, but literally a weed that you can find growing between sidewalks cracks), radishes (only so many things you can do), and another weird green that I can't recall the name of. It would be these same things, in small quantities, week after week.

More recently I belonged to a well-established CSA that delivers to the local farmers market. I join and got about 8 of my neighbors to join as well. We took turns picking up all the shares and dropping them off at each other's houses. This made is pretty convenient, because otherwise I would not make it to the farmer's market on a weekly basis. The "small" share was *huge* - a box the size that copier paper comes in - stuffed to the gills with deliciousness on a weekly basis, for something like $22-25. The challenge that I found was that it was seasonal - as another poster noted - lots of greens in the spring, etc. With two adults and two young children (at the time) we could not possibly eat a copier box full of lettuce and young spinach each week. I had to have time to cook and prepare food nightly to have any chance of using the share. We had no choice in the items, and at times there was a plentiful supply of things that I don't particularly like (hello, beets and watermelon). The CSA sent a print out of recipes home in each box so you could figure out what to do with swiss chard or mustard greens. A few times per year that would have a "u pick" day when members could show up and litterally take all they could of whatever crop. I was never able to take advantage because of the distance to the farm ( 2 hours drive) and day (week day). If you were away and didn't pick up your box it was donated to the food bank.

I think for any CSA you have to 1) be someone who cooks 2) likes almost all vegetables 3) is flexible about meal planning and can wing it Iron Chef style w/ whatever is in  your box for the week 4) has enough people in the household to consume all of whatever you receive.

turketron

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2016, 01:39:22 PM »
I did one a couple years back and while I enjoyed it I chose not to renew. I got a $100 credit from my health insurance for signing up, which made it fairly affordable overall. The pickup point was at my office so I didn't have to go out of my way at all to get it. However, I did have to remember to drive on the pickup days instead of bike so I could bring the box home- at the time I didn't have a rack or anything on my bike. The selection was pretty good and the produce was high-quality, though I don't specifically remember if it was organic. I enjoyed having to think up ways to use things I'd never really cooked before.

However, for me the biggest issue was that even a half order ended up being a lot of food for 1 person. I tried to eat everything before it spoiled but there were definitely a couple times where I had to toss things because I simply couldn't eat everything in time. For a couple or a whole family it'd probably be really worthwhile, though.

cavewoman

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #26 on: January 10, 2016, 08:46:17 AM »
Awesome, I just found a CSA that's semi-local but does pick up locations that are convenient for me!  I'm going to jump back in.  Looks like I can do multiple weeks at a discount, or $18/week individual orders with no commitment.  Thanks for reminding me to look for one in this area!!

csprof

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #27 on: January 10, 2016, 03:32:35 PM »
I love love love doing a CSA.

  (a)  The produce is much better than you get in the store - even whole paycheck.  The price is very fair _for what you get_.  You can get cheaper but worse produce at Costco or at bargain grocery stores, but I grew up with a massive family garden, and having great tasting veggies is a big quality of life boost for me.  Oh man - the strawberries that our last one delivered... amazing.  The tomatoes tend to be good, though usually our garden tomatoes are even better.

  (b)  The CSAs I've used have either delivered to my work or to my house / neighborhood.  Huge win -- I'll take anything that helps reduce the amount of time I have to spend going grocery shopping.

  (c)  I enjoy the Iron Chef aspect.  ("Today you're going to cook with rutabega whether you like it or not!").  Not everyone does. :)

Thegoblinchief

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #28 on: January 11, 2016, 03:40:44 PM »
One more thing. Maybe the TheGoblinChief will chime in on his own, but if not, take a look at his MMM journal or his blog as I know he was less than pleased with his 1st experience this past year.

Yup. Missed this thread until today but my experience was pretty negative despite our CSA having an excellent reputation.

Between the main season CSA and the winter storage share I bought, we paid about $800. I'd estimate we actually only got about $400 of value. (I tracked this in a spreadsheet because nerd.) Some of that loss was stuff I had the foresight to give away before it spoiled, some was stuff that spoiled (or arrived in nasty condition), and some of it was the price premium for organic, but even that seemed excessive compared to other organic farms at the various farmer's markets here.

It's much easier for me to get the veggies we need - and exactly what we need - by going to the farmer's market. Our home garden also consistently gets better.

Axecleaver - you can get cushaws from a few different seed companies if you have the growing season for them. I don't think they're much longer season than many famous NE heirlooms despite originating in the south.

phwadsworth

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Re: CSAs: Community Supported Agriculture - shares worth it?
« Reply #29 on: January 11, 2016, 04:02:42 PM »
I was a CSA member for 5 years in Burlington, VT and I absolutely loved it. 
http://intervalecommunityfarm.com/about-the-farm/

I miss it terribly now that I've moved away.  I generally saved about 30-50% over retail, this is my gut feeling....and it was backed up by the end of the year report that the farm would put out comparing the amount that they produced and the amount we paid with current grocery store prices.  Of course, this is comparing the haul to similar locally grown organic fruit and veg available in Vermont, which is very expensive.  If compared to Driscoll and Foxy, it probably wasn't a deal, but I wouldn't buy that stuff anyway.
The social aspect of seeing lots of my neighbors at the pickup every week was a really nice bonus too.