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[MSP] CSA's in the Twin Cities

I love love love the St. Paul Farmers market and my local co-op. Still, I think I'd like to take it one step further and actually buy a share in a local CSA this summer.

~Has anyone here had any experience with any of the CSA's in the Twin Cities?
~If so, which one(s)?
~What did you think of the quality of the produce, the variety of the produce and general overall reliability?
~Did you like the recipes that came with the weekly newsletter (assuming, of course, there was a weekly newsletter?)
~Did they offer any other special services/opportunities you thought were helpful?

I've been a member of a CSA before so, I'm not asking for general information about CSAs (I know about the pitfalls, for instance, of getting nothing but baskets of strawberries for weeks on end, etc. and eating strawberries until you're sick of them); rather, I'm seeking information about the quality of the produce and your overall experience with specific Twin Cities CSA's.

Thanks in advance!

~TDQ

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  1. We belonged to BC Gardens (http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M5396) last year. We chose them specifically because they had home delivery vs. picking your share up at a drop off spot, plus they offered a couples share and organic coffee delivery. I believe the price for the couples share came to be about equal to a family share that you would pick up yourself, because of the home delivery.

    I really enjoyed getting our weekly delivery. I thought the quality of the produce was fantastic. Of course some weeks you got an eggplant the size of well, an egg, but other weeks we got beautiful heirloom tomatoes, spicy greens mixes, etc. I enjoyed the weekly newsletter more for the descriptions of the unusual veggies. I then would usually do an Epicurous search for recipes.

    I'll admit, we probably gave away or threw out 1/3-1/2 of what we got. It was just too much for a couple that eats out/travels a lot during the summer. I think we'll do it again when we have kids and want to expose them to a lot of locally grown veggies.

    1. I'm interested to see where this thread goes. I investigated this a bit last year, and was leaning toward Harmony Valley. http://www.harmonyvalleyfarm.com/csa.php

      It seemed quite expensive. In our household there are only two of us; however, I cook very nearly every day, and my boyfriend eats more than anyone I've ever seen, and I think we could have easily eaten a family box every week. When it came down to it, I decided that it was more practical to stick with the produce that comes out of my own garden, and to try to make it to the farmer's market more frequently. I'd really like to participate in a CSA mostly for the reason that I think it's a great cause to support, but for me, there are more economical ways of getting local produce.

        1. re: Danny

          Thank you, Danny. I saw that thread and thought that was very helpful in a general way. Unfortunately, only one person in that thread mentioned the name of a specific CSA. There are dozens to choose from in the Twin Cities, and it's a major commitment, often around $500, so I was hoping to get some more specific --and current-- information about people's experiences.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I joined a CSA for the first time for this coming growing season - the one I picked was Double Rabbit Farm, for various reasons - the main ones being location (pickup is at Midtown Market, in my neighborhood) and the overall philosophy of the farmers ( their website is http://www.doublerabbitfarm.com/CSA.html ). You might have seen them last fall in the Strib, where there was a feature about their heirloom pumpkins. Since this will be my first year, I can't speak yet to the experience, but I am SO looking forward to spring and all the fresh veg that will be coming my way!

            1. re: egusto

              Sounds like a wonderful choice--it certainly does seem like a good value. Do keep us posted on how it goes for you. Unfortunately,if I'm reading the info on their site correctly, they don't seem to have a drop site in St. Paul.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I will certainly report back when the time comes. You are correct, their only drop site is at the Midtown Market in Minneapolis - none in St. Paul. Speaking of value, last fall they were offering a 10% discount for shares purchased by December - I bought my half share in advance for $ 295.

                -Eric

        2. Our family has subscribed to Hog's Back Farms for two years. We love the CSA and find the produce excellent, the newsletter very informative and entertaining (particularly his Farmer Complaint Index) and the recipes simple, delicious and healthy. We are definitely coming back for a third year and always add the winter share with it's squash, beets and such.

          They can be found at www.hogsbackfarm.com and you can see some examples of their weekly reports there.

          1. While I haven't subscribed to a CSA before, I have friends who did so through Cooks of Crocus Hill for produce, turkeys, etc. They enjoyed the experience. You could check out their website for the names of the farms they work with.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dahlsk

              Hey, great tip, although what Cooks of Crocus Hill does is just a "once per season" kind of thing, as opposed to weekly like the more traditional CSA. They call it "crop shares"--For spring this year, they are offering baby salad mix and morel mushrooms. I just called and was going to subscribe to the morels, but they are already sold out. Bummer. Next year, I'll be earlier.

              http://www.cooksofcrocushill.com/Page...

              LHoff and Kate--that is exactly the type of feedback I was looking for, so thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm still interested in hearing from others, of course! Thank you again!

              ~TDQ