Is CSA Right for You?

Is joining a CSA right for you? CSA is not a fit for everyone. I hope what follows helps you think that through. The important thing is to choose what works for your household. There are many ways to support local farms; participating in a CSA is just one important way to do that.

Do you want to get to know a farmer, and a farm, that is near to where you live?

——The relationship between you, the farm, and the farmer is a big part of what you are signing up for when you join a CSA. A CSA connects you to where your food grows, and to who is growing it — things you simply cannot know about the food you buy at a retail grocery store.

“I’ve realized how great an undertaking growing food is, and how much havoc things like weather can make, what it can do to the vegetables. Until you come to the farm, you don’t notice these things. Now I do.”     — Pam, CSA member for 6 years

How much do you value the taste and quality of the vegetables you eat?

—-Quality here is about more than looks and size! King-sized vegetables may be pumped up with artificial fertilizers, and vegetables without any blemishes or less-than-perfect shapes may be that way because insects or animals don’t want to eat them. The taste of fresh vegetables raised in good soil, picked the same day you pick them up, and handled with care by someone you know is a value beyond a simple price tag — not to mention the health they bring to those eating them.

“When I come to the farm, I feel proud to be a part of Many Forks because so many of the corporate farms are hidden away. There is nothing to hide on the farm.”     — Anne, a CSA member for 6 years

Do you need to control what or how much of a given vegetable you receive?

—— If you will feel daunted by not knowing exactly what vegetables or how much you’ll be getting at the CSA pickup, the CSA structure at Many Forks may not work for you. Participating in a CSA does require a sense of adventure. It’s a creative process!  When you get home with your bag(s) of vegetables, will you feel inspired to create from what you have on hand from the CSA,  to experiment, or try something new?

“I appreciate that my son is more interested in trying the vegetables than if I were to get the same vegetable from the grocery store.”     — Wendy, a CSA member for 3 years

Now, I love scallions for a snack! “      — Eric, son in a CSA household

Do you have the patience to work with CSA – that is, patience with yourself to figure how to use the CSA vegetables in the best way for your family?

——As the farmer I am here for the long haul, and being a part of the CSA asks you to be a part of sustaining a local farm in your community. Eating this way is not a quick and easy health fix. It may require more than the 20 weeks of a growing season to integrate the flow of the CSA into your household’s dinner table. CSA participants that return each season are one of the core sustaining reasons that the farm can thrive.

“I didn’t always succeed, but I learned that I should process the vegetables as soon as possible, like when I got home, so they were easy to use throughout the week – just waiting to be taken out of the fridge and cooked or eaten.”     — Susan, a CSA member for 6 years

Are you looking for a bargain in joining a CSA? Is your prime motivation  to save money?

Think carefully about this and be honest with yourself.

If saving money is your primary reason for joining a CSA, you may not be satisfied. We do not try to persuade you to participate in the CSA to save money. Sometimes you will save money, and at other times, not — all depending on where else you shop ordinarily, what vegetables we are talking about, and what any given season might bring.  Our small farm cannot claim  to compete with corporate entities like Wamart, BJs, Trader Joe’s or grocery store chains with price as the measuring stick.

Instead, we make other promises:

  • We grow the vegetables you receive  with sustainable, environmentally responsible practices, care for them with every member in mind and with attention to every plant, all of this yielding food full of health.
  • You have the freshest food possible — generally harvested the very same day you receive it! This NEVER happens at a commercial grocery store.
  • Since you know the farmer, you know how the food has been grown — what we have put in the soil, how we control insects, where the seeds come from and that they are not genetically modified, for example.  You can ask the farmer in person and get straight answers.
  • You come onto the land where we grow your food. You can observe the life of the farm, experience the changes through the season, and see the vegetables growing first hand.
  • You can have the pleasure of picking some vegetables yourself, and if you have children, they will love doing this! There is something inherently satisfying about gathering food for your family — the food you are then going to take home and prepare and add even more love before you serve it.
  • Each household decides how much they want to be involved in the farm. You can just show up and get your vegetables, but you can also participate in gatherings, conversations and workshops for farm members, or come at designated times in addition to distribution day to cut flowers and herbs, or walk the farm trail.
  • The other CSA members are a resource for you: in learning how to work with vegetables new to you, giving you new ideas for vegetables you know well, or providing an opportunity to bump into community members you know — and meet new ones!