Craving fresh veggies but don’t have a garden? Join a CSA!
In recent years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become increasingly popular with consumers who want to purchase fresh, organic, seasonal produce. Similar to co-ops, which offer members shares of an enterprise, CSAs allow farmers to sell off shares of their farm to customers with CSA subscriptions. This model benefits local farmers by cutting out the middleman—grocery stores—and customers foster relationships with the people who grow the food.
What’s included in a typical CSA share?
While the selection of produce varies dramatically depending on what’s in season, a typical CSA share includes weekly or twice-monthly boxes of fresh, seasonal produce during farming season. Some CSAs, like Blessing Falls Family Farm (located in the Post Oak Savannah region of Central Texas), offer additional farmed goods such as eggs from pasture-raised, organic-fed hens and 100 percent grass-fed beef.
What if I don’t know what to do with an item in the CSA box?
One of the key draws of CSA subscription boxes is the opportunity to experiment with new vegetables and fruits in recipes. As a bonus, many CSAs have newsletters and websites with tips, ideas, and recipe suggestions.
What if I don’t like the produce that’s in season?
Some CSAs offer customers the opportunity to swap out items they don’t like for other seasonal items. Typically, these swaps take place at farmers’ markets or on the farm’s website.
Is it possible to visit a CSA farm?
Many CSAs allow shareholders to visit the farm at least once each season, and some offer members a chance to volunteer in the gardens or packing areas. At Johnson’s Backyard Garden, a CSA in east Austin, volunteers are welcome to sign up for half-day shifts to help wash, sort, and pack shareholders’ CSA boxes. As thanks for volunteering on the farm, each person is then rewarded with a share of vegetables at the end of the shift.
How big are CSA shares?
CSA shares vary, depending on the farm and the size of the share. At Tecolote Farm in Manor, shares come in a standard weekly size big enough to feed “a vegetarian household of 2 to 3 people or an omnivorous family of 3 to 5.” Other CSAs, like Johnson’s Backyard Garden, offer a variety of share sizes to choose from.
Can I pick up a CSA box at the grocery store?
Some farms have special arrangements with grocery stores and farmers’ markets that allow CSA members to pick up their shares at these delivery locations. Additionally, many CSAs will deliver to local homes and offices each week for a small fee.
Here are a few CSAs that deliver locally:
- Johnson’s Backyard Garden: Free pick-up at the Monument Cafe in Georgetown Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m.
- Blessing Falls: Pick-up at Svante’s Restaurant in Round Rock on Saturdays after 3 p.m., or $4 home/workplace delivery.
- Tecolote Farm: Pick-up in Pflugerville at the corner of Will Rogers Lane and Maize Bend Drive on Mondays. Additionally, new convenient pick-up hubs can be created when groups of five or more shareholders request them.