CSA Boxes - Seattle
- FernH Jul 22, 2004 05:08 PM
Hoping this isn't off topic, but am sure I can't be the only adherent of this board who subscribes to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm for organic produce.
Last summer we subscribed to a farm whose produce was fresh and good, but they drove me crazy w/ carrots. Every week, carrots! They started off cute and tasty, but by summer's end we were talking wood pulp.
So we switched. This summer, too, there's been excellence (the eggs are heavenly), nary a carrot in box, but also some things that don't seem quite fresh.
What I'd like is to get some recommendations, and compare experiences with other CSA subscribers. This is an (as far as I know) unregulated, un-critiqued area of food consumption.
Ooh...Eggs? I get from the Pike Place Market one and they've been good and fresh, but way too many raspberries. Every week, two half pints of raspberries (which are the only fruit I can't stomach). Oy. Enough with the berries already.
On the other hand, we get lots of cherries and a good variety of leafy greens.
I also do the Pike Place Market CSA and I am the exact opposite. Bring on the berries and enough with the cherries! I have made cherry crisp, cherry sauce, cherry chutney, cherries in my salads......
Actually, I am loving this. It's nice to get a variety of fruits and vegetables from across the state. Cooking is my only creative outlet and this has been fun to figure out what to do with different things each week.
I get one every other week from Pioneer Organics. The nice the about PO is that they email you the week before what will be in your box and you can make up to 3 substitutions. So if there is something in the box you don't like you can request something else.
This is my third year doing the Pike Place Market CSA and I love it (fortunately, I like raspberries and the people I share it with eat the peaches I can't stand).
What I like about it is that the produce comes from several different farms. I think this may lead to greater variety and less likelihood of running into your carrot problem. The quality does vary from week to week, but overall is excellent.
As far as I understand it, Pioneer Organics isn't a CSA program--I don't believe that you are buying a portion of a harvest in advance as you do with a CSA. In addition, when we briefly subscribed one winter because of our withdrawal pangs from the Pike Place Market basket, we received almost nothing local or that we couldn't have purchased in our grocery store (same brands). Perhaps that is just because it was winter.
No, Pioneer isn't a CSA. When I sold plants at the Farmer's Market, I would see their truck come through and buy the leftovers. Also, my son recently had a box subscription through them; everything was high quality, but included avocadoes and oranges. NOT local.
Our current CSA is Ninety Farms in Arlington. Our 1/2 box comes to about $13 per week. They have an option where you can purchase meat.
Terra-Organics.com is the CSA box service we use. Hands down, the best produce in the Pierce / King County Area because they get produce from all the local farmers in the region to put together their CSA boxes. They also have their own farm (Tahoma Farms) that provides the option of only getting produce from their CSA. AND! they deliver the box to your door -- for free. No one else does that around here.
The term CSA is a bit confusing, actually, because there's no industry standard about its definition. It means "Community Supported Agriculture" and traditionally it has meant that you buy a "share" in the farm by paying an up-front cost for a weekly box of seasonal produce. You also share the risk with the farmer because you're not guaranteed a certain amount of produce (or type) each week. This is changing, however, and a lot of farmers are now acting as distributors for others' crops, allowing for more variety in CSA boxes; in some cases, they are also allowing for per-box pricing (rather than buying a share).
What makes Terra interesting is that they have per-box pricing, with the abiity to change vegetable / fruit orders according to the customer's desire. And the produce is incredible, and incredibly fresh -- I find that organic produce from Whole Foods lasts 1-3 days in my fridge, whereas Terra produce lasts up to 2 weeks.
There are other CSA's: Full Circle is the biggest, Root Connection is another local one (great produce, they actually also supply some of Terra's produce), Jubilee Farm. My husband and I have done Full Circle (and cancelled as the produce was in very disappointing shape 2-3 deliveries in a row), but they also do per-box, specialty order pricing. We also did a work-trade at Jubilee (in Carnation) which was incredibly fun, and they only do share pricing. I've never used Root Connection, but my sister has and said their produce was very nice -- again, they only do share pricing.
Hope this is helpful!