We CSA. Do you?

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Jason and I have been participating in CSA/farm shares for the last two years. I think we have finally found the perfect fit and we now might be converts for life!

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. A CSA is when a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public, typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. People purchase a share before the growing season and in return receive a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season usually at a discounted price than what others will pay at the farm’s market. Some CSAs only offer shares during the summer others offer shares throughout the entire year.

Each CSA is slightly different and when choosing one I would recommend you decide what is important to you (location, pick-up times, do you want familiar vegetables or new ones that would broaden your horizons, do you want to choose what you get or be given what is decided for you, do you want only veggies or do you want other products as well etc.). If you are like us then you might have to try a couple until you find the right one.

We have never been concerned with eating exclusively organic but we have wanted to eat more locally. In VT many times eating locally and organic are the same thing.

Two summers ago we decided to try a CSA with Jericho Settlers Farm. We signed up for it before we realized I was pregnant. During my first trimester I tried some grilled broccoli rabe that did not agree with me. Actually that is an understatement, any time I thought about brocooli rabe I involuntarily dry heaved. It became so bad that for most of my first and second trimesters anything green made me green. Needless to say we did not have the best experience with our CSA, although that had nothing to do with Jericho Settlers Farm.

Pros of this CSA was that they gave you the choice between a large and small share of veggies and you could add on meat, eggs, bread and cheese, which we took advantage of. We also had our pick-up at their stand at the Burlington Farmers Market. I think for many this would be a great option. We found it very limiting. Whenever we made plans on the weekends, which was most weekends, we found it difficult to make plans around the time we had to pick-up our share. The Farmers Market also became increasingly busier and busier, which we didn’t love. However, going to their stand let us have some option of what vegetables we got each week. With the mix of my pregnancy and the pick-up times we ended up having a lot of uneaten veggies that sat in our refrigerator waiting to be eaten.

Adams Farm Market Produce Pass

Last year for Mother’s day Jason got me a Produce Pass from Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market in Williston. Although this isn’t really a CSA for $25 we got 20% off all of our produce purchases for the growing season. This is a similar discount to what you get with a CSA and does not require you to pay a large sum of money upfront. Some weeks it was great for us. We could make it a fun outing with my mother-in-law ending the shopping with ice cream or frozen apple cider (yum!). However, it was hard to get out there every week with an infant so we definitely didn’t take advantage of its full benefits. If it was just around the corner from us it would have been perfect.

Caroline started eating solid foods in August of this past year. Over the fall we decided we wanted to eat more locally, produce and meat. We started trying to shop at Healthy Living and City Market in addition to our weekly grocery shop at Hannaford’s.

We quickly realized that shopping at multiple places just wasn’t conducive to our lifestyle and it seemed to me we were paying too much for grocery’s. We decided to try a CSA again.

We decided we wanted to join a CSA that delivered during the week close by to our house. We decided on Pete’s Greens. I don’t think we could have made a better decision. Pete’s Greens located in Crafstbury gives you the option of a large or small veggie share and a pantry share. They offer CSA shares all year long. We joined at the beginning of the spring opting for the Localvore Share, which is the large veggie share and pantry share. It is perfect for us. We have gotten a mix of delicious root veggies, greens (every single week), frozen fruits and veggies, and yummy products from Pete’s green (their pesto is to die for) and other VT companies. We also opted to get a meat share that is delivered once a month.

As an example this week we got: Mesclun; Potatoes; Carrots; Cress; Cabbage; Onions; Basil; Elmore Mountain Pizza Dough; Pete’s Kitchen Pizza Sauce; Gleason Grains Snake River Organic Wheat Flour; and Pete’s Kitchen Pesto. We got all of this organic produce and food for $46. Fantastic.

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We pick up our share at Bessery’s Meat Market on North Ave in the New North End. We are able to cut through our neighbor’s yard to get there. If you are not familiar with Bessery’s it is the epitome of a quality neighborhood market. The fact that I can walk there in less than 2 minutes is an obvious benefit, but on the weeks we don’t have a meat share I’m able to pick up meat or beer for dinner. Bessery’s has some killer sausages and frankfurters (raw hotdogs) that are made in house. You may have tried one of their many sausages at the Friday Night Truck Stop at Arts Riot last summer. Caroline LOVES their frankfurters. Bessery’s is a staple of the New North End and if I can support them while picking up my CSA it’s like killing two birds with one stone. csa3

Unlike previously we have consistently received veggies every week and most importantly we have eaten/utilized most of it! Many of the pantry items we have received come in large amounts (oats, flour, sunflower oil, barley etc.) and we will be able to make them last for quite a while. It’s actually amazing how many organic local vegetables we were able to receive throughout the spring while there was still snow on the ground. Definitely more than we would have been able to get at the store. I love the pantry share because we are exposed to VT products that because of location we might not have been otherwise.

Carrot Curry Soup with rotisserie chicken added. We used our Pete's Greens' carrots, potatoes and leeks. The recipe came from Pete's Green's weekly Newsletter.
Carrot Curry Soup with rotisserie chicken added. We used our Pete’s Greens’ carrots, potatoes and leeks. The recipe came from Pete’s Green’s weekly Newsletter.

Our pick-up is on Wednesdays. On Tuesdays I wait excitedly for the email telling me what I will receive the next day. It’s such a fun surprise. Then I get to think creatively how I will use/try familiar and unfamiliar veggies.

For us finding the right CSA took some trial and error. It all depends what you are looking for. Many CSAs are getting ready for their summer shares, and now is the time to sign up. Here is a website to help you find the right one for your family.

Do you CSA? If so, what’s your favorite?

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I became a Vermont transplant ten years ago after meeting and falling madly in love with my husband, Jason, a South Burlington native at the University of New Hampshire. My education and training are in social work and although I left that career behind (at least for now) after my first child was born in 2014 my passion continues to be children, families, and the desire to connect moms to one another through building community. Fast forward to the present and my days are filled with parenting and chasing after two amazing and bright children, Caroline and Augie, and one fur baby, Copper, while trying to keep our home having some semblance of order. I am also an elected member of our local School Board.

4 COMMENTS

  1. […] I bought the following organic products: apples, bananas, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, romaine, cilantro, feta, whole wheat spaghetti, and chicken. I also bought some local products, even if they weren’t certified organic: eggs, yogurt, cheddar cheese, and bread. This and/or bit was confusing. When there’s a choice between local or organic, what do you do? I ended up leaning local when I could. In Vermont, many times eating locally and eating organic are the same thing. […]

  2. I have been getting our CSA from Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg for three years now. I did a ton of research and was fortunate to pick the right fit on my first try. They are AMAZING! I pickup right down the road from my work and they have a lot of choice in their share (3 sizes and not pre-packed). Thank you for sharing. I love seeing info about local!

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