Green Your Summer: Sign up for a CSA

Last year, a friend that I worked with signed up for a CSA.  For those of you that are unfamiliar, CSA is “community supported agriculture” and involves members paying the farm at the beginning of the season for a share in whatever the farm produces that season.  It could be fruits, veggies, breads, cheeses, etc.  Your package would get delivered to you at a specific interval (H and I are getting ours weekly) and you get a certain amount of stuff with your share.  It tends to be whatever is in season, and very well could be something you wouldnt normally eat, want or even use – this is the downside of these programs.

These programs, however, can be a great way to lower your impact during the summer (and into the fall).  One of the things that really busts your sustainability is what they call “food miles” that is, the amount of miles your food had to travel from the time it left the soil to the time it arrived on your plate.  Its been estimated that this averages about 1,500 miles for everything you eat.  Imagine that, that serving of potatoes on your plate traveled almost 1,500 miles to get there (mine don’t, because Idaho is Wyomings friendly western neighbor, but a potato would still travel 500+ miles to get here).  So, in an effort to cut down food miles (and ensure that there are fresh fruits in the house we signed up for a CSA).

Every week, a box of fruit will turn up at our house (or we may need to pick it up, I’m not sure yet) and will be filled with fruits from a farm in eastern colorado.  This will go on for 22 weeks, and the cost of each week, it will cost $16.85 cents per delivery.  Unfortunately, I cant be sure that this is going to be cheaper than buying the fruit at the store, because when I’m at the store I make an effort to only buy the fruit that costs less than 1.50 per pound.  With this CSA, I’ve got no idea what I’ll be getting, so there’s no way I can tell yet if it will pay for itself.  I’m excited to try out this whole thing, and will of course report back to you readers how it went.

One of the reasons that I ended up pulling the trigger was that I recently started canning.  If there’s something that I cant eat or dont want to eat that week – I’ll be able to preserve what I cant eat with some recipe from the book, or perhaps turn it into jam.

So, if you’re looking for another way to keep your summer green, consider signing up for a CSA.  I found my through word of mouth, but I did a few google searches “your city” CSA and came up with some good hits.  If I were you, I’d ask around with some friends, then consider going the google route.

Readers: Are you a member of a CSA?  Do you think they are too expensive and not worth it? Or are you going to try to find one for yourself this summer?

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18 thoughts on “Green Your Summer: Sign up for a CSA

  1. I was going to try a CSA, but I was going to have to come up with $600 up front. That would be 10 months of deliveries 4x each month. Or 5 deliveries some months. The upfront costs were what stopped me. I really would like to try it.

    • Mine cost about 300, and it runs for 22 weeks – but I only get fruits. I figured that if I ended up liking it, it’d be great, and if I didnt, I’d still have fruit to eat and just wouldnt sign up for it next year. I dont have to go to the farm to pick it up, they have a store here that accepts deliveries so I just need to pick it up there.

  2. The only CSA in our area is a 50 mile round trip and is only open Oct to April. The cost last season was $65 per month. It is an organic farm and the box is filled with a variety of items – all veggies no fruit. They also sell at a local mall one day a week, Nov – March, but the prices are about double what’s in the grocery even for organic.

    So, we’ve not joined but have increased our own food production.

    I’d like to find a CSA that delivers, if not to the house, to a drop-off that is less than 10 miles round trip – just for the time and cost involved.

    • That’s a shame your csa doesnt deliver – ours delivers to many different communities around their farm, and to neighboring states as well. I’d like to increase my food production, but I think I’ll focus on that next year.

  3. I’m a CSA member. I split half a share with my mom (definitely saves some money doing it that way). I think they are definitely worth it. You are paying for local and organic food. Plus you start to realize the REAL cost of eating (not just the subsided costs). And you get exposed to different veggies you wouldn’t normally buy at a store.

  4. I almost signed up for my local CSA! My area has an open farm day every fall and it was fantastic to tour some of the places, I brought home the flyer and seriously considered it. I decided not to this year because we were planning our own garden (didn’t happen 🙁 too caught up with work) and now considering I’ll be gone on trips three times and as well I’ll be renovating I decided against it as I really wouldn’t get the value out of it.

    I hope to sign up next year, such a great concept!

  5. CSAs are such a great idea. I was a nanny for a family who owns an organic vegetable farm about 8 miles from me. They do CSA through a store 3 times a week (and a local town farmer’s market on Saturday mornings) where they are one of the main contributors, a bit different from the delivery option you are talking about. Both ways are cool, but what makes theirs unique is you can make your own box of your favorite veggies!

  6. I had read an article somewhere recently (forget where), that local farming is actually much worse on the environment than the mass-produced, mass-transit route. It might sound counter-intuitive at first, but the basis was that the economies of scale and logistics involved in growing, moving and distributing large quantities of food consumes much less energy than smaller farms (no scale), increased water usage per acre, increased energy per acre, etc. They backed it up with some assumptions as I recall, but well, you know how assumptions go. Just curious on your thoughts.

  7. We signed up for a CSA last year and we fell in love. We have signed up again this year. Not only is the food delicious but we have also made some good friends. We also enjoy the fact that we are supporting local businesses and limiting our carbon footprint.

  8. Jeff, you’re in Wyoming, right? There’s CSA there? Where’s it come from? signed, a former Wyomingite who ate a lot of crab-apples growing up …

    • I Am – our csa comes from Northeast Colorado – Wellington, I believe. They do partner with farms in SE Wyo for meat as well – not sure which one though. Grant farms is the name.

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