The ABCs of CSAs for Summer 2012

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:
• Grass Run Farm’s organic, grass-fed meat CSA:
• Trumpeter Swan Farm’s free-range egg CSA:
• Common Place Farm’s fresh cut, chemical-free flower CSA:
•  Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm meat CSA:
• Grass Fed Cattle Company beef CSA:
• Hilltop Pastures Family Farm grass-finished beef, pastured pork, and free-range egg CSA:
• 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.
• Driftless Organics, in additional to vegetables, offers organic sunflower oil shares and organic grass-fed beef packs:
• East Henderson Farm, in additional to vegetables, offers grass-fed and humanely treated beef, whole chickens, maple syrup and wild edibles:
• 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:
• My Minnesota Farmer, in additional to vegetables, offers strawberries, raspberries, apples, and herbs, as well as chicken, eggs, turkey and beef:
• Treasured Haven Farm, in addition to vegetables, offers harvest boxes, pumpkins, chickens, turkey, beef, eggs, fruit shares, and more:
• 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:
• 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:
• 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: