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Triangle-area CSAs

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I promised I'd post again when CSA signup time rolled around. I just got an email from Brinkley Farms (http://www.brinkleyfarms.com ) about signups for the CSAs that are hosted at the RTI campus in RTP. The deliveries won't start until the April-May timeframe, but you're encouraged to sign up as soon as possible, to give the farmers the benefit of the upfront operating capital that's one of the major points of a CSA.

Here's a link to the RTI CSA website & specifically the signup info. Note that most/all of the farms who participate at RTI also deliver to the various local farmers' markets, so you have options as to when/where you pick up your weekly produce delivery.

Main page: http://www.rti.org/csa
News/signup info: http://www.rti.org/csa/page.cfm?nav=813

There's also a similar program where several farmers deliver to Duke on Tuesdays: http://www.hr.duke.edu/farmersmarket/...

There are many other farms who do CSAs who don't participate in the RTI or Duke programs, but who deliver to the Carrboro & Durham (and probably Raleigh-area as well, I dunno for sure) Farmer's Markets:

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/Su...

Here's a brief CSA rundown:

You pay a farmer a certain amount upfront, usually working out to $10-20/week for the late-spring/summer/early-fall timeframe that the CSA operates in. In exchange, each week you get a box of fresh produce from that farmer. It's great for the farmer because it guarantees them a portion of income for the season upfront, and it's great for you, because you get the freshest possible produce. I myself really like it because it kinda forces me to eat my veggies, and to investigate new recipes based on whatever winds up in the delivery for that week.

Some farms also do meat/eggs/etc. With some farms, you take whatever you're given in the box (they all try to provide an assortment in the box every week -- these are by and large small family farms growing 10-30 different veggies per season, not big monoculture factory-farms). A few farms, such as Brinkley, will send a "menu" each week and you can pick from it.

I'm also partial to Brinkley because they do beef and pork as well, and their ground beef & their bratwurst provided some of the major highlights of last summer at our house. I believe they're also doing eggs this year, which I'm really excited about.

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  1. My husband and I signed up for Timberwood Organics (http://www.timberwoodorganics.com/) CSA a couple of weeks ago. They start in April and deliver to homes. Fruit/Veggies only, I think, which was actually a selling point for us since we're vegetarians. I also picked them because was impressed by the level of information on their website, and their online ordering option. This is our first CSA, after talking about it for years, so we're really excited for it to begin.

    1. I live in Five Points in Raleigh, and we have recently secured a drop-off of two different CSAs on Whitaker Mill Road, at Bernard Street. It will start In April or May and the drop-off time is 4-6 on Thursdays. There are two to choose from. I'm so excited! They also found a dairy that does home delivery of milk and ice cream, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cackalackie

        what dairy does home delivery? that sounds so nice.

      2. I work for an organic certification agency, and can vouch that both Hilltop Farms (Fred Miller, located in Willow Spring, and delivering to Raleigh and Cary as well as farm pickup) and Harland's Creek Farm (Judy Lessler who, I believe, delivers to Durham and possibly Carrboro, is located in Pittsboro) are both 100% certified organic, if that makes any difference to you.

        1. Those are great recommendations. Eco Farms (pickup at Carrboro, and perhaps this year, Durham farmer's markets) also has an excellent CSA program. John Soehner grows some of the best greens, lettuce, favas, mushrooms, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, onions, and squash in the area. After trying the garlic from every vendor at the Carrboro and Durham farmer's markets in a blind taste test, John's came out on tope... yes, I'm that kind of a garlic geek. Not sure if the website is up, but John's number is 919-357-8099. Just my two cents.

          1. A big thank you, Ross, for posting this info. Wife and I deliberated over the weekend and selected Maple Spring Gardens.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bbqme

              The first year I did a CSA I did Maple Spring Gardens. They are awesome people, super-friendly and accomodating, and their produce is top-notch (or at least it was 3 years ago). The main reason I switched was because it's a long haul from RTP back to the Carrboro Farmer's Market after work, and I kept almost missing my pickup.

              1. re: rossgrady

                It's reassuring to hear that you were happy with MSG. This is our first year doing a CSA.

            2. Can anyone tell me the advantages of joining a CSA over simply shopping at a farmer's market? Is it cheaper overall?

              1 Reply
              1. re: chason

                I don't really know if it's cheaper overall, because one reason *I* join a CSA every year is because I never used to make it to the farmer's market regularly, despite my best intentions. Knowing that you've got a box of pre-paid food waiting for you can be a powerful incentive ;-)

                One advantage is that the CSA provides a small-scale local [often organic] farmer with a fixed amount of operating capital at the start of the season, which helps them get over the early-season hump when they're spending money to get crops in the ground, but don't have any product to sell yet. It's an investment in your local community at least as much as it is a simple money-for-food transaction.

                I suppose that's more important to some folks than to others. I think my take on it is that while it's important to me in the abstract, I really just love having a steady weekly supply of ultra-fresh produce delivered to a parking lot a half-mile from my office ;-) And in our case, the steady stream of food, and the diversity, is a good excuse for us to get out the cookbooks & learn new recipes that we might not have tried otherwise.

                As far as pricing goes, I suspect that probably varies across the CSAs. I've never heard of one charging *more* than they charge at the farmer's market. I assume that some probably do load the boxes up with more food/dollar than you'd get at the market.

                Perhaps someone else who comparison-shops at the FM can weigh in; on the times that I *do* get to the FM, I'm usually walking around to see whose tomatoes look the most divine, and I don't really notice the prices as much.

              2. Does anyone know of a CSA that delivers in Raleigh?

                1 Reply
                1. re: VaNC

                  From the website, Hilltop Farms does.

                  http://www.hilltopfarms.org/

                2. Does anyone have a list of CSA farmers that deliver to Durham? Otherwise, I'd have to contact farmers individually which is a nuisance.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Chow Penguin

                    Do you mean the Durham Farmer's Market? Both the Duke & the RTI deliveries in RTP should be open to anybody (though given the current state on parking on Duke campus, I wouldn't subject myself to that voluntarily). Beyond that, I'd guess that the majority of farmers who use those dropoffs probably also dropoff at the farmer's market.

                    I haven't seen a specific list of farms who deliver to the Durham FM but if I happen across one, I'll post it.

                    1. re: Chow Penguin

                      Try Timberwood Organics (http://www.timberwoodorganics.com/)

                    2. I meant Durham in general. I'm not going to attempt to go to the Durham Farmers Market when I don't work at that location. Parking's terrible at best and getting in and out during lunchtime would be incredibly timeconsuming. RTI's nowhere near me either.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Chow Penguin

                        Just to clarify, I think there is some confusion about the various Durham and Duke farmers' markets and CSAs. There is:

                        1. The Durham farmers' market, open Saturday mornings near the old Durham Bulls ballpark. http://www.durhamfarmersmarket.com/

                        2. The Duke farmers' market, open Fridays at lunchtime near the Duke Medical Center. http://www.hr.duke.edu/farmersmarket/ I've never been there but I doubt anyone cards you to see if you're a Duke employee or student.

                        3. The Duke "Mobile Farmers' Market," which is a CSA program that delivers preordered boxes to Duke Gardens on Tuesday afternoons. http://www.hr.duke.edu/farmersmarket/... Not sure whether you have to be a Duke employee to sign up for this.

                        Plus there may also be other CSA programs that deliver to Durham.

                        1. re: Durm

                          Ha, I was kind of scratching my head about Chow Penguin's comment about there not being parking at the Farmer's Market, since there is ample parking at the Durham Downtown Farmers Market. I didn't even know about a Duke lunchtime market, that makes more sense.

                          1. re: statolith

                            Typo on my part. I meant the Duke Farmers Market. I went there once and I'm not returning there again. If you don't work at Duke (in the hospital or its immediate environs), don't attempt to go there. It's difficult to find parking at any time of the day at Duke anyway.

                          2. re: Durm

                            I am looking for a CSA that has delivery spots in Durham other than the Durham Farmers Market and the Duke Farmers Market (both locations). For the Mobile Farmers Market that delivers to Duke Gardens, this is open to Duke employees only though I suppose if one contacts the participanting farmers directly, it may be possible to arrange a pick up.

                            However, all the existing weekday pick up points in Durham are inconvenient for me.