Farms That Deliver: Joining a CSA

This spring, I signed up for my first CSA.

It’s something I’ve had my eye on for a while. Excited to share the news, I found many friends asking exactly what a CSA was. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture, a local system of agriculture and food distribution. What exactly does that mean? You pay up-front to receive a weekly (or bi-weekly) deliveries of produce for the length of the growing season, and in doing so, make a commitment to directly support one or more local farms. It’s a mutually beneficial partnership between farms and their surrounding community. Farms are guaranteed to sell a certain amount of food, and we get a variety of fresh, seasonal, and local produce dropped off each week.

csa
My first CSA share. Watercress, beets, collards, tomatoes, and some killer cremini mushrooms inside that paper bag.

A CSA here in Philly runs from $15 to $30 a week, but varies a lot depending on the size of the share you get (say, fruits and vegetables for two people, or for a family of four). Pick-up locations are all over the city: restaurants, shops, cafes, even people’s houses. I was thrilled to find out my neighborhood coffee shop had become a pick-up spot, and couldn’t resist signing up.

I highly suggest a CSA to anyone who is interested. Try it out for a season and see how weekly produce works for you. Even consider splitting a share with a friend.

A couple I would recommend currently have sign-ups open for the summer:

Philly Foodworks 
Small Share: $395 Annually ($17.95 Weekly)
Large Share: $625 Annually ($28.40 Weekly)
This is my CSA, and I love it. Philly Foodworks offers some unique features that I haven’t seen before. They have three different types of memberships: farmer’s choice, mixed, or your choice. I have the “your choice” option, which means each week I can shop for items via an online market. Distribute your money how you wish, spend different amounts each week and have the option to skip a week when you’re away. The selection of fruits and vegetables changes weekly, based on what’s in peak season. A partnership of several local farmers and vendors, Philly Foodworks also offers eggs, cheese, breads, jams, and more.

Greensgrow Farms
Half Share:  $448 Annually ($34.46 Weekly)
Full Share:  $800 Annually ($33.33 Week)
Greensgrow Farms is a urban farming project and nonprofit initiative in Philadelphia. Their mission focuses on the practice of sustainable entrepreneurial urban agriculture. Greensgrow harvests crops on site and purchases from other trusted farms located all within 150 miles of the city. Each week’s robust share contains fruit, vegetables, and a choice of protein (eggs, yogurt, tofu). Some weeks include cheese, fresh pasta, or even beer.

csaGo ahead, “taste the difference.”

Have you been a part of a CSA, what was your experience? Any recommendations?

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7 thoughts on “Farms That Deliver: Joining a CSA

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