Joining a CSA was one of the best decisions we have ever made. Not only has it improved our health and saved us money, but it introduced us to vegetables and fruits we never knew existed!
It even helped us in the kitchen, and now we are able to cook a variety of dishes with crazy looking produce (hello Kohlrabi and Romanesco Broccoli)!
If you’re curious about CSA’s or considering joining one, I suggest you take a minute and reading this post. This information will help you make a good decision and hopefully answer any questions you may have!
How to Find the Perfect CSA
Let’s start off with an introduction…
What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.
I’ve also heard the phrase community shared agriculture. I like to think of it as an agreement between a customer and a local farm. CSA members or subscribers pay a farm ahead of time for a portion of that farms crop. In return, the member gets a box of produce every week or bi-weekly, depending on the CSA.
How to find CSA in your city…
- Local Harvest is a great resource for finding a CSA, just type in your city, state or zip code, and it will show you a list of CSA’s in your area.
- Another way to find a CSA in your neighborhood is to ask farmers & vendors at your local farmers market; they might have a CSA, but not be advertising it.
- Co-ops and Whole Foods Markets are another great place to ask around at. You’d be surprised, once you start looking for CSA’s they start showing up all over the place.
Can you handle a CSA Box?
A CSA is Perfect for You if…
- You want to eat more local, seasonal food
- You want to eat super fresh produce (most CSA’s harvest and deliver the food to you within 48 hrs)
- You eat a lot of fruits and vegetables (great for plant-based & raw food diets)
- You want to support your local economy
A CSA might Not Be for You if…
- You don’t want to spend time cooking
- You don’t like to try new things
- You like to know what you are getting ahead of time
- You dislike more vegetables than ones you do
Now, if you think you’re up for it, and I hope you are, below are some of the benefits I’ve experienced and you can expect to as well… and that’ just the beginning!
Benefits of Joining a CSA
- Variety in your diet, it will become more seasonal
- You know exactly where your food came from and how old it is
- You don’t have to think about buying fruits and vegetables
- It can save you money (this depends on your location & which CSA you go with)
- Get to know your farmer, and sometimes you can have a say in what they grow
- You’ll expand your recipes
- You’ll lower your carbon foot print
Things to consider before picking a CSA
Now this is the real important stuff.
CSA’s differ a lot from farm to farm, so before you jump in on one program, be sure to take a look at this list to guarantee you make the right choice!
What comes in the box?
When looking for a CSA, there is a lot of variety when it comes to what you get in each box. For example, some boxes come with fruits and vegetables. Some just fruit. Some have juicing boxes (produce just for juicing). Some have add-ons like flowers, coffee, trail mix, almond butter and local products. Some CSA’s have meat and seafood. Some CSA’s let you pick exactly what comes in your box each week.
Size of the CSA box?
Most CSA’s come in two sizes: small and large. If you are single, or don’t eat very much vegetables at the moment, go with a small. If you have a family of 4, or roommates, or follow a plant based diet, go with the large. Check with the CSA and see what comes in a sample box. When it doubt, start off small, you can always upgrade!
This will depend on the size of the box, how often you get it, if you add any additional items, if you have it delivered and the area you live in, etc. To give you a rough estimate, for our area (San Diego) it costs anywhere from $25 – $50 for a large box.
Live in San Diego? Here is a complete breakdown of what’s offered here.
How often do you want to get the box?
You can decide if you want to get a box every week or bi-weekly (twice a week). Some CSA’s are only seasonal, so you can only get a box during the spring and summer months, when crops are full and yields are high.
How far are you willing to go?
You’ll need to figure out where the pickup location is for your CSA box. You want this to be pretty close to your home or work, making it convenient to pick up. Or maybe you choose to have your box delivered for the most convenience.
Organic or not?
Not all CSA’s are organic. So, if that’s important to you, make sure you ask!
Do you need flexibility?
If you travel a bunch or have some vacations planned, make sure the CSA you go with allows you to put your box on hold, that way produce isn’t wasted or money isn’t lost.
Does it have to be the farm?
If connection to an actual farm is important to you, make sure you are going through a farm and not a 3rd party company appearing as a CSA.
Do you care about perks?
Some CSA’s are better than others when it comes to providing their members support. Look for things like weekly recipes, a blog with resources, events on the farm like farm tours and meet & greets.
I hope this is helpful, and now with all this knowledge you should be ready to go out there and find the perfect CSA program for you!