Is a CSA Program Right for Me?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, if you believe in fresh, local produce and want to get to know your farmer and where your food comes from, you'll experience fresh food on a whole new level.
What’s the difference between joining a CSA and shopping at a farmer’s market? Which choice is right for me?
These are great questions to ask. If you're considering joining a CSA program these are the questions you should be asking.
In reality, a CSA program is not a good fit for everyone, and you shouldn’t feel bad if it’s a commitment you can't make. It is a commitment between you and the farm you're supporting.
To help you decide if CSA is right for you, and before you sign up for this seasonal commitment to a specific farmer, you should ponder a few questions.
Read on below to find your answers to the six questions and learn more about CSA!
How do I know if a CSA Program is right for me?
Take a few minutes to read through the following questions, keep track of your answers, and see what unfolds. Joining a CSA program is a commitment, taking a few minutes to ponder now will help you decide what is best for you and your family.
Is a relationship with your local farmer important to you? Do you want to support a local farm?
CSA members want to be able to build a rapport with the person that feeds them. Creating a lasting connection with a local farmer is important.
Knowing you're doing your part to support a local farm can be very rewarding. A CSA share is a great addition to your routine, and it allows you to access locally grown, great-tasting food and to know the farmers whose livelihood relies on your support.
By joining a CSA program you are committing to a farm through the entire season, through thick and thin. Rooted in this arrangement is the understanding that farming has great rewards and great risks. Mother Nature is in control on the farm, and she may send us beautiful weather one day and monsoon the next. This could lead to certain crops not showing up in your share that season. On the other hand, we can be experiencing bumber crops and you'll get an abundance of berries, tomatoes, or corn. You'll be swimming in the bounty of the crops.
CSA members embrace the everyday realities of living on a farm.
A member's motivation for joining a CSA program is equal parts supporting the farmer and getting the full value of their share.
This relationship is a two-way street. When you join a CSA program, the farmer will work hard to cultivate a connection with you. There's a value add component as well, through teaching members about growing fresh produce and how to prepare it.
What are your thoughts?
Yes, I can about have a connection with the farmer and the land.
No, it doesn't really matter to me.
2. Do you value having high-quality fresh produce in your fridge that are
bursting with flavour?
Tiny tasteless grocery store tomatoes in the winter, strawberries that taste like cardboard, sound familiar?
If you're a potential CSA customer, then you know, taste matters. An important aspect shared by our long-time CSA members. Food that tastes the way it should because it was grown with love and care, picked at the peak of freshness and brought directly to you from the field. No middle person.
If you love cooking with fresh ingredients, and value taste above all else in the kitchen, then you will LOVE being a CSA member. Our CSA is all about providing you with high-quality, fresh and tasty produce from our fields. We want to make your home dining experience an exceptional one. You're paying for taste and quality when you join a CSA program.
If you're looking for basic ingredients at the lowest price, so you can make a basic salad, CSA is not for you.
How much does taste matter to you?
Yes, 100% taste matters to me.
No, taste doesn't matter as much as dollar value does.
3. Are you inclined to try new foods?
A CSA share will push you to try new foods and explore variety in the kitchen. You will discover vegetables you love and some you might come to love over time.
Part of the CSA experience is being exposed to vegetables you may have never seen before. We put some interesting things in your CSA shares, but we will also teach you how to use them in the kitchen. This is part of a bigger picture of elevating food diversity and teaching our communities (and our kids) how to eat seasonally again.
How do you feel about trying new vegetables?
Yes, I love it.
Not sure whether I'm into it.
4. Do you need control in your menu planning?
CSA members learn to be flexible with their weekly menus. All the shares are the same, we don't have the means or the people power to allow members to choose what goes into their share. During the season, we send out an email every Monday to tell you what you will find in that week's share. We also share with you a recipe and a little bit about what's going on at the farm. We do our best to help you get the most out of your share and provide a little assistance in menu planning.
Are you willing to give up some control over what fruits and vegetables you get each week? Or do you need to live by your plan?
If you really want to stick with your plan, you might be better off buying exactly what you need from our farmer's market locations. A common denominator of members trading the CSA program for supporting us at a local farmers market is they didn't get enough of the things they wanted and too much of what they didn't want.
A CSA program works best for members who see their kitchen as a creative space and our fruits and vegetables are at the centre of their creativity.
How flexible do you feel when it comes to meal planning?
Yes, I can go with the flow and let my creativity shine in the kitchen.
No, I need to stick to my plan.
5. Are you willing to work at eating the CSA way?
It can take some time to see the results of a CSA program. It can take a season or two to really master making the most of your share. You may waste some food early on, as you go through the learning curve.
Come into the CSA experience with an open mind and be ready for an adventure. Forgive yourself if you fail to eat the whole share at first. It's really hard to do, especially if you're new to a CSA program.
There will come a time when you start your week thinking you're going to be a rock star chef and maximize your CSA share, then real life sets in, and you find yourself standing by the fridge eating raw cauliflower and hummus. At times, it can feel like you're failing at your goal to change the way you eat, it's important to remember: eating more vegetables, even if it's with hummus, you're still winning. Some vegetables may rot in your fridge on a particularly busy week, but that's okay. Believe it or not, this happens to farmers too. Developing a new habit takes time and patience.
Set realistic goals for your first season and work your way up. We're here to help with tips and tricks and recipes every week of the season.
Are you ready to do the work?
Yes, I'm IN for the whole CSA journey.
No, I'm not quite sure if this is my style.
6. Are you looking for a "deal"? Are you comparing CSA prices to the grocery
Members who fully embrace the CSA model don't look for a "deal" in their membership. They also don't compare their CSA experience to the prices at the grocery store.
It is positively okay to ask how much the shares cost and weigh the pros and cons. Our fruits and vegetables have added value because they are telling you a story. Not only is it telling you about how it was grown and harvested and how it got from our fields to your plate, or how we as farmers are answering our calling. Our vegetables showcase your journey with food. They become the star of your next meal, any restaurant meal would pale in comparison. This is not an experience a grocery store can give you.
CSA customers appreciate the added value of purchasing fruits and vegetables grown on a farm right in their community, and they are willing to pay for it.
If you're asking yourself, "well that's more than you'd pay at _______" maybe you want to hit the pause button on purchasing a share.
Are you looking for the best deal or for a new experience?
Yes, I want the whole CSA experience.
No, I really prefer to get the best deal possible.
How did you do?
Participating in our CSA program is just one way to get fresh farm-to-table produce on your plate.
If you're someone who values the story, the journey, and the relationship you can develop with your farmer, a CSA program is a great opportunity to change the way you eat forever. If this isn't for you, it's okay to pass on becoming a member and instead visit us at one of our many farmer's markets and CSA pick-up locations to purchase fresh produce from our farm. We offer both, so you can find what works for you.
Like anything, your expectation will determine how you experience the CSA program. To set yourself up for success, ensure your expectations align with the philosophy of CSA before you join the program.