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12 Questions to Ask Before Joining a CSA

join csa

Carrots picked just hours earlier before bringing them into the city.

 

Farm fresh produce is a trend on the rise. With the start of Spring comes a lot of buzz about joining a CSA. But just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it will work for you and your family.

 

A CSA (community supported agriculture) is a business model where shareholders (you) pay a farm in advance for a share of their crop that they produce. We are part of a meat only CSA. We pay a certain amount every month and they deliver a variety of beef and chicken directly to our door.

 

The cuts of meat we get vary each time, but we have a general idea of what to expect.

 

There are CSAs for dairy, eggs, fruit and veggies.

 

Since Spring is the time most people sign up for a CSA, make sure you know what to look for before joining!

 

12 Questions to Ask Before Joining a CSA 

 
1. Do you cook? 

If your family doesn’t cook at least 5 times a week a CSA may not be for you.

 

2.Is organic certification important?

Smaller farms although organic in practice, may not have the funds to go through the certification process so their produce is not certified organic.

 

3.What is the share size?

Is it a standard brown paper bag or a smaller snack box? This will determine how much you need and if it’s enough or too much for your family.

 

4.Are there vacation holds?

What is their policy when you go on vacation? Will they refund a portion or donate it or can you give it to someone else?

 

5.Do they deliver?

If you are not close driving distance to a farm, a delivery or convenient drop-off location is important. Also make sure the times work with your schedule.

 

6.Is the crop in-season?

If you are looking for a certain crop like corn or strawberries check if it’s a local crop grown in your region.

 

7.Are you a picky eater?

Mustard greens anyone? Every week? If you and your family are not picky about trying new foods, it may be a great fit for you.

 

8.Is it for money reasons?

Joining a CSA may not be the most cost effective option, especially if any of the food is going to waste. Supermarkets are hard to beat for sheer volume, but cannot compare to taste and freshness.

 

9.Do you like the outdoors?

It’s not a requirement, but a fun perk of being a member. Farms have special member only events to enjoy on the farm.How fun for kids to pick their own veggies for dinner!

 

10.Do you have the time?

CSA contracts range from 3 mos. to 1 yr. It is a time commitment and sometimes they offer a sample share to see if it’s something you want to join.

 

11.To split or not to split?

If the share is too large for your family, is there anyone you can split or swap with? Maybe a neighbor is joining another CSA and you can swap produce depending on what each is getting, or go in together on one and share it.

 

12.Is health a priority?

Be honest. Everyone says it is, but joining a CSA is for health and wellness far above anything else. There is a difference in taste and nutrient rich foods that are hand picked just hours before delivery.

 

Are you part of a CSA? 

 

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Comments

  1. We’re hopefully joining a CSA this year! It’s definitely going to be a challenge to figure out dishes Eric and I both like with all of the yummy fruits and veggies coming our way, but I’m hoping it’ll help us with meal planning and staying away from takeout!

  2. Sounds very interesting. I wouldn’t mind learning more, but wonder how my hubs would feel.

  3. SO informative! I’m pinning this!

  4. Great article!! Joining a CSA a few years back was a challenge and a joy. I recently moved across the country and am in the process of looking for another one. Actually, I just did a post on it today – feel free to stop by :)

    My biggest hurdle right now (and a question you can add to your list), is this: is local important? or organic principles? or both? I’m having a heck of a time finding a CSA in Toronto that is both. I won’t go into it all now (because it’s the length of a blog post, haha), but it’s good to ask your potential CSA provider, “are you 100% organic AND local?”. One of the ones I’ve talked to tried to run all year long – but in Toronto, you can’t grow food all year long. Right now the box is 75% IMPORTED! WTF?!

    Adding you to my Bloglovin :)

    • Isra Hashmi says:

      That’s a great point, a lot of farms now import produce if their crop doesn’t carry it to try to make their customers happy but it totally defeats the point. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  5. I grew up on a farm in a small community. Joining a CSA at that time wasn’t really needed because whatever we needed that we didn’t farm was either in my Dad or my grandparents’ garden (each about 1/4-1/2 acre), or we traded items with people who did have those fruits/veggies. My Gram was part of a co-op, though, for dry goods and things like chocolate bits, etc.

    Since moving away I was always lucky to live near a really great farmers market, but now that we don’t, I’ve thought about joining a CSA. I appreciate your list of tips – number 7 might be the sticking point for us. Our household doesn’t have a lot of adventurous palates (I told them how my great-grandmother liked dandelion greens in her salads growing up and they were, like, why would you eat WEEDS?!).

    Something to still think about, though!

    • Mostly the weird stuff we get is roots, like turnips and rutabaga and sunchokes. Or greens.

      For the roots, I chop them small and put them in stew or curry with potatoes and other familiar stuff, and make sure to cook them until soft. Or boil them with potatoes and mash them. My picky kid loooooves her “mashed potatoes.”

      For weird greens, cooking them first takes away a lot of the bitter taste, and citric acid masks it as well, so you can always cook and puree up greens and add them to spaghetti or pizza sauce (canned or home-made,) or in smoothies with some lemon or orange juice.

      • Isra Hashmi says:

        You know that’s a great idea! I never thought to use them hidden in recipes, great way to not waste any of it.

    • Isra Hashmi says:

      Oh gosh Liza, growing up on a farm is such a magical childhood! I can’t even imagine how that must have been. To work on the land and eat from it, just sounds so dreamy! CSA is at least one way to get back in touch with farming, and if anything take your kids to go picking for things themselves! :)

  6. I love my CSA. Ours is year-round (with a 2-week break for Christmas,) but you sign up by season. They have small and large shares (I pick small,) and bread and egg and just-greens shares. I chose ours over a few closer to me because they let all share members pick their own extra greens and herbs from the list up on the board each week. And they have u-pick apples – i bucket per share – in October, plus a cider press. And u-pick cherry tomatoes at the end of Summer.

    But the real selling point was that instead of handing me a box with my share, they have a long counter with signs telling you what/how much to pick of each item based on your share. So if there are snow peas and sugar snap peas, I can choose one or the other or a mix of both, up to the weight allotment. My girls get to help choose which of our share of apples we take from the box, which bunch of greens we want to try this week, what potatoes we want until we hit our weight allotment, etc. And I can’t find that much organic produce for $19/week at any grocery store!
    And anything weird I just chop up really small and put in a soup. No one even knows it’s there! Or for greens I steam them and puree them up and hide them in spaghetti sauce. Or raw kale in smoothies. The citric acid in the tomatoes masks the green flavor (same trick works for greens in smoothies – add a little citrus juice!)

    • Isra Hashmi says:

      Wow, your CSA sounds very cool. The ones I’ve seen just send whatever they get, I like the idea of picking your own, and totally agree there is no way to find that much organic produce for such a low price.

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