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Thursday, February 23, 2012

The ABCs of CSAs for Summer 2012

The ABCs of CSAs for Summer 2012

Crudite platter
made with CSA veggies

Earlier this week, I tweeted about Twin Cities CSAs, and many of you retweeted or replied, which suggests Twin Cities residents are eager and interested in CSAs for summer 2012. This is a great time to take the opportunity to discuss the unique CSA offerings in the Twin Cities and figure out which one is a good match for you.

The Basics on CSAs
A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operation is a partnership between local producers and their subscribers. Before the growing season commences, a CSA farming operation will sell subscriptions to members of the public who pay upfront and then become stakeholders in the farm. The public stakeholders then receive regular deliveries from the producer in return for their subscription.

When you subscribe, you enjoy the benefit of having a relationship and understanding with the people growing your food. In a very direct way, you experience the risks and the bounties that the producer experiences.

Membership arrangements, delivery locations and frequency, products, opportunities for involvement, and costs vary with each CSA operation, so research is important in order to find one that suits you. There are several CSA opportunities in the Twin Cities area. To make it easier for you to select which CSA opportunity works best for you, Land Stewardship Project just released their CSA Farm Directory, which provides details on more than 80 Twin Cities area producers and their wide variety of CSA subscription plans.

What if I Can’t Handle a Whole Share?
An almost full bushel of produce every week might be too much for some. For those, consider these options:
• Many Twin Cities CSA operations offer half shares, which are smaller shares. Some of the farms that offer half shares include Axdahl’s Garden Farm & Greenhous, Blackberry Community Farm, Celestial Harvest, Eener’s Farm, Fox & Fawn Farm, Herbal Turtle Farms, Long Siding Farm, Marshwatch Farms, Piney Hill Farm, Prairie Sun Farm, Sweet Beet Farm, Winding Road Farm, Kindred Spirit Farm, Living Land Farm, Northern Light Farm, and Prairie Drifter Farm.
• Split a share with a family member or neighbor. One of you picks up the share, and you split the box each week, or you alternate weeks, so each ends up with a full share every two weeks.
• Many CSA subscribers save their seasonal bounty for later use through preservation techniques such as canning, freezing, pickling, and drying. The University of Minnesota Extension website has all the information you need if you’re interested in getting started.

Beyond Produce
CSAs can provide more than just produce—eggs, flowers, cheese, meat, and more are also available through CSAs in Minnesota. Here are some CSAs that go beyond produce.
• Shepherd’s Way Farms’ artisan cheese CSA: shepherdswayfarms.com
• Grass Run Farm’s organic, grass-fed meat CSA: grassrunfarm.com
• Trumpeter Swan Farm’s free-range egg CSA: trumpeterswanfarm.com
• Common Place Farm’s fresh cut, chemical-free flower CSA: livethislifeonpurpose.com
•  Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm meat CSA: sunshineharvestfarm.com
• Grass Fed Cattle Company beef CSA: grassfedcattleco.com
• Hilltop Pastures Family Farm grass-finished beef, pastured pork, and free-range egg CSA: hilltoppasturesfamilyfarm.com
• Community Homesstead: In additional to vegetables, items can be purchased online weekly and added to your weekly standard vegetable box, including flower bouquets, fruits, jams, eggs, beef, pork, bread, cookies, dairy-free baked goods, cards and coffee. communityhomestead.org
• Driftless Organics, in additional to vegetables, offers organic sunflower oil shares and organic grass-fed beef packs: driftlessorganics.com
• East Henderson Farm, in additional to vegetables, offers grass-fed and humanely treated beef, whole chickens, maple syrup and wild edibles: easthendersonfarm.com
• Harmony Valley, in additional to vegetables, offers a fruit share, certified organic, grass-fed Angus beef and pastured pork, fresh-roasted organic Kickapoo coffee, and a cheese share: harmonyvalleyfarm.com
• My Minnesota Farmer, in additional to vegetables, offers strawberries, raspberries, apples, and herbs, as well as chicken, eggs, turkey and beef: mymnfarmer.com
• Treasured Haven Farm, in addition to vegetables, offers harvest boxes, pumpkins, chickens, turkey, beef, eggs, fruit shares, and more: treasuredhavenfarm.com
• True Cost Farm, in addition to vegetables, offers grass finished, dry-aged beef and lamb, as well as pastured non-GMO and chemical-free fed pork, chicken, duck, turkey and eggs: truecostfarm.com
• Turnip Rock CSA, in addition to vegetables, they have an online sign-up option that allows you to buy canning tomatoes, freezer sweet corn, and pesto basil throughout the summer. Organically fed, pasture-raised pork, eggs, beef, chicken and soon, farmstead cheese, are also available: turniprock.com
• Northern Light Farm, in addition to vegetables, offers beef, honey, eggs, and chicken purchased as additions.
• Threshing Table Farm, in addition to vegetables, offers grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chickens, maple syrup, and eggs: threshingtablefarm.org


Posted on Thursday, February 23, 2012 in Permalink

Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Oct 4, 2012 10:46 am
 Posted by  katoguy1776

I tried giving My Minnesota Farmer CSA a chance, but it just never impressed me. There was absolutely no variety in the weekly shares. It was always the same food--kale, potatoes, tomatoes, and egg plant. What little variety there was in the weekly share was oftentimes rotten by the time it arrived. My Minnesota Farmer just couldn't live up to its big claims. I tried to be patient, I spoke with the owners, and even offered suggestions, but sadly, no changes occurred. I think they are in over their heads. On top of the rotten and repetitive food, the "weekly" shares were inconsistent. Some weeks we wouldn't get a share, other weeks we would get a "double share" which ended up not being double anything because half the produce would be rotten. I paid for a WEEKLY share to have a VARIETY of fruits and vegetables. I voiced my concerns to the owners, but no changes occurred. The kicker was the mouse that was found in our share one week. I understand that farms have mice, but this one was nesting in the box! How long was the food sitting around for the mouse to build a nest?! I just hope this doesn't happen to anyone else. Invest wisely!

Oct 25, 2012 01:29 pm
 Posted by  jenma40

I never tried a CSA until this year and also went with My MN Farmer. I had a much happier experience then the previous poster did. I think there was plenty of variety. I received greens, delicious lettuce, corn, melons, beets, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic scapes, cabbage, garlic, peas (but not a lot of peas), beans, kale, eggplant, tomatillos, different varieties of squash, pea sprouts, many types of herbs, strawberries and other produce I can't remember right now. There was a lot of eggplant and kale but that's because this was a good growing year for both crops. We didn't receive any apples or raspberries, which made me sad. However, it was all over the news that this was a bad year for berries and apples so that wasn't My MN Farmer's fault. I got a half share. I would not say the amount was inconsistent. It was smaller in the beginning and huge by the end. I don't have another CSA to compare them to but I was pleased. And no mice!

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