What is a CSA ? Why does Book & Plow have a CSA? Why would someone want to become a CSA member?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. It is a farming model in which community members pay upfront for a share of a farm's harvest. They then pick up produce each week over a season. In addition to supplying Valentine Dining Hall with food through the year, we want to give community members access to the food that students grow to cook in their own homes. Book & Plow relies on CSA share sales to sustain itself financially.
The reason so many people love CSA's is the "freshness factor" and that aside from vegetables, there is no easy way to get vitamins and minerals into your diet. CSA's bring people to farms to access the freshest food possible. The only way to beat the freshness of a CSA is to have a home garden. CSA's make a lot of sense, especially when you consider most "fresh" food in the grocery store is harvested in an under ripe state in order to survive the journey from California / Mexico / Florida / Chile without being damaged and that the average distance traveled by food is 1500 miles from farms to our plates.
The most notable benefit of a CSA model is getting to know the people who grow your food. To have weekly face to face interactions with your farmer is an amazing thing! Not only that, but you can give feedback about vegetables you like and don't like, ask for gardening and cooking tips, and deepen your relationship with food knowing it was grown with respect for the land and love of the product.
Wikipedia has a great article that explains the benefits of a CSA model and some history. That article can be found here.
What can I expect in my share?
Our fall share costs $250 for 12 weeks running from the beginning of September to the week of Thanksgiving. That works out to $20.88 per week! In exchange for this you get to fill up a tote bag with whatever vegetables you want that week. On average members choose from 12-14 different items each week. We have salad mix, kale, chard, and collard greens available most weeks. Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and cherry tomatoes are available in the beginning with potatoes, spinach, beets, carrots, broccoli, winter squash, garlic, onions, radicchio, escarole, fennel, scallions, bok choi rounding out the latter half of the share. Depending on what you fill your bag with you could end up with 8-15 lbs of super fresh, delicious food each week. Even if you are like some of our members who just take greens, you can get an entire tote bag full of salad mix and dark leafy greens (maybe some garlic thrown in there too) for less than you'd pay for organically grown food at the farmers market or grocery store.
We operate a free-choice share meaning we won't tell you which vegetables to take. We encourage you to try vegetables you haven't eaten before, but the choice is yours! Every week we send out a reminder email with the list of vegetables that will be offered, updates from the farm, and 3 recipes which highlight the produce we have that week.
Is the current share the same as the 2017 share?
Our Fall share will be the same size as it was last year. The small increase in price accounts for the cost of growing the food. You can purchase multiple bags depending on your needs. Depending on which vegetables you choose, you can expect to bring home 8-15 pounds of fresh produce.
New this year we are providing an option to donate to our Sliding Scale Shares during CSA sign-up if you have the ability to do so. By donating to this cause you attest that access to healthy food is a human right that should not be denied to anyone while also acknowledging that farmers cannot grow food for free. We are hoping that by providing folks the ability to share the bounty of fresh food with those who cannot afford it, that we will be able to increase access to healthy food in our community.
What if I cannot afford the share?
We welcome folks of all economic backgrounds to partake in our CSA program. If $250 upfront is a barrier for you, but $20.88/week is more accessible, we welcome week by week payments. If that still feels out of reach, we have a limited amount of sliding scale shares available with the option of doorstep delivery if getting to the farm is also a barrier for you. We encourage you to peruse the following links regarding sliding scales here, here, and here to help establish whether or not you qualify for the sliding scale shares. If you feel like you qualify for a sliding scale share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org , we will ask no questions, rather we appreciate you reaching out for support in accessing healthy food and we look forward to having you in our community.
Because we have a limited pool of money to support our sliding scale shares, we ask that you recognize by taking a spot when you don't need to eliminates our ability to share our produce with someone else.
Why is there no summer share?
In the past, we experimented with a summer share on the farm. Because we are designed to be in peak production during the semester, we will continue to focus on our Fall CSA. Don't Worry! Many of the warm weather crops will still be available in September.
How many bags should I get
We recommend a single bag for 1-2 people, two bags for 2-4 people, and three bags for a family of vegetable lovers. Each bag is approximately 8-15 lbs.
Can I split my share with a friend?
Sure! We recommend either bringing your friend to pick up with you so you can decide on how to fill the bag together, or alternate weeks with your friend so you each get a full share every other week.
What happens if I can't make it to a pickup?
If you can't make it to a pickup, we recommend sending a friend, loved one, or colleague to pick up instead. If everyone you know hates vegetables, please email us the morning of pick-up telling us which vegetables you want in your share, we can set aside your share for pick-up the following morning. (This is more work for us, so please respect this as a last resort option!)
Can I come to the farm and use the Pick-Your-Own Garden during off hours?
Absolutely! One of the best things about the CSA is the option to harvest fresh herbs or a bouquet of flowers on your way home from work any day of the week. We also love when folks bring their friends and community members to "show off" their farm on the weekend. We only ask that on the rare occasions when we have strict picking limits (eg. 1 pint of green beans per share/ week) that you respect those limits even if you come during off-hours!