What’s Your CSA?

Erika Howsare at C-Ville Weekly points out that it’s that time of year to sign up for Community Supported Agriculture programs. So it’s time for that annual discussion topic: Will you be signing for a CSA this year? Which one, and why?

Last year my wife and I decided that we’d skip the CSA and buy directly from farmers, and became regulars at the Farmers Market. Though we were happy with that decision, we were also really happy with Horse and Buggy Produce, who we worked in in 2006 and 2007. I think we’ll go the same route this year. We’re establishing a few new beds this year, and we’ve already gotten seeds sprouted for broccoli, lettuce and basil, and we got the peppers and tomatoes started last weekend. But it’s hard to beat the convenience of a CSA.

6 Responses to “What’s Your CSA?”

  • We did essentially the same thing. Nothing against the CSAs, but we just started growing more stuff on our own and buying more at the Farmers Market.

  • I’m going to put in a plug for Appalachia Star:


    Good folks (and you Marketers can buy from them there, too). I’ve been a satisfied customer for several years, besides keeping a small garden of my own.

  • We’ve gotten a share from Innisfree Village for some number of years. Not only do we get fresh local produce, but it helps support a great community serving the needs of people with developmental disabilities. They also tend to grow some unsual and heritage varieties of different vegetables and send suggestions on how to use them.

  • My wife is an excellent cook, and she shops for produce at Giant, Harris Teeter, Kroger, and Cville Market every week. We signed up for a CSA two years ago with high hopes of getting high quality locally grown produce.

    After two years, my wife decided not to renew this year. We found that in general, with some notable exceptions, the quality of the CSA products is less than that of supermarkets, if one shops around. So while we enjoyed the experiment, we will not be back next year. Or maybe we will look at a different CSA.

  • We did Horse and Buggy in 2007 and 2007, and did the grocery store/Integral Yoga/Farmers Market thing in 2008. I really missed the community experience of H&B; the weekly pickups, the friendly faces, the kids helping me count and weigh the food, Freckles the dog. Goofy and fun Brett and co. We liked the food a lot and I’m definitely not one of those people who likes to drive around to a bunch of grocery stores. Saturday mornings are not a great time for me to pick up vegetables, so the City Market didn’t happen as often as I would have liked. We’re not sure what we’ll do this year. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, though — I guess we’ll talk about it this week. It’s good to get ideas from other folks. Thanks!

  • CSAs and buying directly from farmers aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, Horse and Buggy produce is sort of unusual within the larger CSA movement because they do aggregate produce from many farms. More common is a CSA sold by an individual farm family, as a way of evening out their income across the year. Remember, the CSA isn’t only about the great food you get, it’s also about sharing the risk of local farming. If we want to keep local family farms in business, (and we do, for all kinds of reasons like food security and environmental sustainability) it makes sense to share some of the risk as well as the bounty. Pay them up-front for part of their harvest through a CSA; You’ll get inexpensive local produce all growing season, and they won’t end up destitute if the crop fails.

    And now I’d like to promote my favorite CSA, Ploughshare Community Farm (http://www.ploughsharecsa.com/ploughshare-csa.html) Tony and his family are awesome, the food is plentiful, tasty, and organic, and you can pick up at the C’ville farmers’ market. This was a great pattern for me last year, to go pick up my share at the market, see what was in it, and then walk around the market buying anything else I’d need that week. We saved tons of money on groceries, helped a local farmer make a living, and ended up healthier too.

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