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Is a CSA Right for your Family? Check out the pros and cons

May 15, 2014

And Find a local CSA farm near you!

By: Erin Chamberlain, Cherry Valley Macaroni Kid
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Considering a CSA for your family, but not sure what you get with the commitment? Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to buy super-fresh, local produce directly from the farmer that grew it. If you are a family that is seeking high quality and highly nutritious food, often grown without the addition of pesticides or herbicides, then a CSA could be the right choice for you this summer.

Most CSA programs run during the summer months (June - September), during peak growing seasons. Families can sign up directly with the farm for a season, pick their box size - a small box is perfect for 2-3 people or a large box will feed 4-6 people - and pick up their box from the farm or designated location once a week.  

Most farms grow a wide variety of produce, so your box contents will change each week. Expect lots of leafy greens during the early summer months, moving into a bounty of beans, fruits, berries, herbs, tomatoes, summer squash and much more during the summer, and root vegetables and winter squash as the season winds down. You may even get a few new veggies that are new to your family. Don't worry! Most farms have a newsletter and will gladly introduce you to the vegetable and give you a few recipes to get started. Many farms have added benefits with their CSAs, such as farm visits to do additional u-picks, festivals and events especially for CSA members, and add-ons like meat and eggs.

So, how much does a CSA cost? Memberships vary from farm to farm, but expect to pay anywhere from $20 - $45 a week depending on the box size you choose. It may seem a bit high at first, but once you see the quality and quantity of food you receive, the value far exceeds what you pay. If cost is a consideration, and you enjoy getting your hands dirty, ask the farm about a work share. A work share is where you perform a certain number of hours of work for the farm in exchange for your food. Another option is to split a share with a neighbor or friend.

Here is a quick pro and con list to consider:

A CSA would be great for your family if ...       
  • You would like a large variety of produce
  • Sustainably raised or organic food is important to you
  • You would like to support local farms
  • You want the benefits of homegrown food, but don’t have the space for a garden
A CSA may not be a great fit for your family if ...
  • You don’t cook a lot
  • You plan to travel or aren’t available each week to pick up your box
  • You aren’t ready to commit to a 20 week program
  • You like to be able to pick your food or make a lot of substitutions to your box contents
Ready to sign up? Visit LocalHarvest.org to find a CSA farm near you. Happy eating, Macaroni Families!