Do you CSA?

Hello Father,

I have a confession. I love gardening, I love farmers, I love dirt. But I just can’t imagine joining a CSA. I want freedom of choice, to pick my veggies just the way I want, when I want. You see, God, signing up for a CSA requires commitment. And, I have come to realize that I don’t necessarily enjoy commitments. (I can’t even keep up with once a week pilates.) I do go to the Farmer’s Market faithfully and I shop at the local grocer each week. But I still feel unfaithful to the farmer by not participating in a CSA. Does my selfishness of wanting to choose my veggies each week mean I’m not really supporting the farmer? That rain or shine, drought or flood, he’ll have money to keep his farm afloat no matter how the produce turns out?

Help me out,

Jessica

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I really am serious. Even though I encourage all my friends to participate in one, I have a huge commitment issue with CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). And until this past Tuesday I kept telling myself that if there was a farm that had a pick-your-own veggie CSA that I would participate. But then you find that ‘answer’ and realize, you’re still hesitant.

You see, I love going to the different vendors at the market and choosing a tomato here, a carrot bunch there, and a pile of lettuce greens at the next one. And my worry is this, if I commit to spending my $20/week with only one vendor – will I regret it? I definitely won’t regret the quality – its the best there is, but will I regret not getting to spend my $ with lots of vendors in lieu of spending it with one?

What do you think? Do you like your CSA? Do you have one where you choose your veggies or do you get an exciting surprise bag each week? Should I just go for it and try it out? And if you are a farmer…I’d love to know your thoughts on CSA participants versus farmer’s market buyers? Do you get as much $ from going to the Farmer’s Market or would you rather have it all in CSA participants?

Thanks for helping me with my dilemma! Jessica

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Comments

  1. I hear you on this. I like freedom of choice, too. And I like the atmosphere of farmers’ markets, getting to chat with lots of different producers and seeing what they have to offer. I’m actually a very avid gardener with hopes of becoming a cottage farmer, and I think my preference is going to be selling at the farmers’ market (although if a couple of people wanted to “subscribe” to my garden, that’d be okay with me, and I might even let them help choose some of the varieties I grow!). Selling at the farmers’ market lets you get rid of a lot of extra stuff when you have it and doesn’t force you to come up with something (usually kale!) to give your subscribers when there’s not much else growing. Anyway, I think CSA’s are good in theory, and I think they work fine for some people, but you shouldn’t feel bad about wanting to pick out what you buy. A good farmer should enjoy watching you check out her produce and take pleasure in seeing you decide it’s worth paying for!

    • Thanks Sharon. Very well put! What is cOttage farming? Good luck gardening! I just ate a fresh asparagus from the garden. Such a treat! Jessica

      • Cottage farming is basically just small-scale farming, like on a scale of 1-3 acres or so, and not for primary income. I don’t expect to make a complete living at, just to have the pleasure of providing a few people with great fresh food!

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  3. It’s awesome that you decide to support farmers, and any way that you are comfortable doing it is wonderful. There are some other avenues of farm marketing that are on the rise- buyer’s clubs and farm co-op internet sights are becoming quite popular. It’s great that you have a strong farmer’s market in your area, and people just like you are what keep the farmers coming back with their products. If everyone decided to join a CSA, what would become of those market relationships? They would dissolve of course. And not every farmer has ways and means to provide for a CSA. Some farmers just raise a few select varieties, very well I might add.

    • Thanks for commenting. That is a really good point about how some farmers raise only a few things. The nice part about supporting them is knowing everything at their stand is truly from their garden.

  4. I do have a CSA but also visit the market for other specialty items. I like the loyalty of supporting a local farmer, that I know her name, that I’ve been to her farm, etc… But when I want something additional or baked goods, I head to the market.

    • Thanks Tammy for sharing. I’m afraid I’d end up overspending. My current budget is $20/week on fresh produce and feel lucky that I’m able to do that and make things work for my family. That doesn’t include buying produce in bulk during the spring/summer and canning/freezing. Just lots of things to consider. Jessica

  5. I am a CSA subscriber and love everything about it! I enjoy the surprise ever week and have never been disappointed. I also have a garden that we recently started with some of the staples. But I think part of the fun of a CSA is getting something new and different all the time. Looking forward to seeing what you decide…

    If you would like to check out my CSA journey please visit my weekly CSA post…http://inherchucks.com/whats-in-the-box/

    • Thanks for the note. It really is hard to decide. Although, I think part of me should just go for it. Especially when I tell all my friends to sign up for one. Thanks for the link to your CSA post. I’ll check it out. Have a great Friday! Jessica

  6. My family subscribed to a CSA last year but have opted not to do it this year. There were many things about it that we loved, but it had its draw backs. We’d have weeks were we’d get predominately food we don’t eat much of (like two pounds of radishes). If there had been an option to get more staple kind of produce (onions, garlic, tomatoes, etc), we’d do that. Maybe someday there will be. But for now, we’ve decided we’d go back to getting our produce from the farmers market.

  7. We love our CSA even when the vegetables we’ve never heard of sometimes leave us scratching our heads, but we’ve discovered nearly everything tastes good sautéed with some garlic or there is a recipe on the Internet. However, I admit that two pounds of radishes would most likely go to the chickens by the end of the week. Even so, at our market, it’s still cheaper to go with the surprise box of our CSA.
    How about asking for a list of previous years’ boxes to see if you like what’s inside? Since you are a gardener, you can then compensate by growing the extras you like. For example, we get so many tomatoes in our share that I no longer grow them in my garden and instead grow extra cucumbers and corn since our family loves them and the share doesn’t provide enough. Good luck and keep supporting our farmers’ markets!

  8. Some CSAs in my area will allow you to purchase “credits” that can be used to purchase products at their booth at the market (for value +10%)– that might be something to look into. I think looking closely at what’s on the list for potential CSAs is also helpful– it takes me some definite effort and planning to use everything I get in my share at my current farm, but I get very few things I really can’t use (except…ahem… beets. I give them to my dad). My CSA pick up is at the market, so I visit other booths and supplement (which I need to do for preserving, anyway, since I don’t have a huge garden). I also get my farmer’s market fun before and after the CSA season (mine is a shorter one, which I like).

  9. We used to buy into a CSA, but became a farmer’s market food vendor and continued buying our vegetables weekly. We loved our CSA, and will probably continue in the future with it. But as a market vendor, we don’t have enough time some days to pick up our own vegetables with serving customers, packing up/unpacking, etc. However, we still support our same local farmer buying their produce to make our dishes.

    Their CSA has the best tasting vegetables to us since they carry a lot of organic produce, and they let us pick out a certain pound of produce for a certain price. Basically you go to the farmers market and pick out your vegetables that you want. They don’t prepack. We’d like to go back to a CSA eventually, because we feel like it provides them an easier way to estimate their income and run their farm. We’re big fans of Joseph Fields Farms great tasting produce, great customer service, and the way their CSA lets you pick your own items.

    • Thanks so much Donna for your comment! What vendor table do you run? I love Joseph Fields Farms table too and frequent there a lot. And I had decided that if I went with a CSA it would more than likely be theirs. I really like the pick your own veggie style of CSA.

      Let me know which table you are at and I can stop by when the Farmer’s Market reopens to introduce myself.

      Thanks!

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