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Which is the best CSA?

I'm really interested in support in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this year. I understand how they work... once a week pickup at a dropoff point. Who is happy with their farm? How much do you pay weekly? (seems like $20/week for a small basket is about the norm)

Thanks for the help!

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  1. I think most people are happy with their CSA - we are for the most part. There are times when we are dissatisfied, but it is usually when there is bad weather that affects the harvest or not enough variety.
    I picked my CSA only becasue it had the closest drop-off spot to my home. I didn't want to have to travel too far each week to get my food, and all the CSA's are a step-up in quality from what you'd get in the store.
    Obviously there is less variety in a CSA because you wont get any pineapples, mangoes, kiwis, etc...

    Just go to the Equiterre website and pick one!

    2 Replies
    1. re: spankyhorowitz

      Is there a way to access this information in English? The Equiterre web site becomes French when you click CSA finder. I have just started learning the language (this week we learned numbers ha ha) so I am stuck.

      1. re: spankyhorowitz

        Joining in on the convo, I think I'll look into the equiterre baskets this year. I've used Jardin des Anges in the past and was generally pleased, but found their limited selection of baskets disappointing - there's a veggie only option (which is new), but no fruit only or small basket options, just the option to add on to an existing basket, which ends up being too much food for one person. Their service and selection are fantastic though, I highly recommend them to anyone looking for organic produce for two or more people.

      2. It looks like the list for the upcoming season is not yet online.
        Check back regularly as it should go up any day now....

        1. My favorite CSA is Stephen Homer from LA Ferme Zephyr but he is a farmer first, a foodie second and a business man third. SO the third part meaning that he is sometimes late to arrive at depot and not always organized. If you are laid back and can overlook that he grows a lot of interesting gourmet veggies. Carrots, radishes, peppers, etc in assorted colors, candystriped beets, miniatures, cerise de terre, fleur de l'ail, kohlrabi, celeriac, jerusalem artichokes. When looking for a CSA you might want to ask if the farm is in a formal or informal cooperative. The farms that supply the Mtl region have different growing conditions. So, eg, one year STephen's tomatoes didn't do well but his assorted greens were abundant. He bartered with a farm in the Eastern Townships and was able to supply us with tomatoes. I think a lot of the CSA's are doing that now. If you are particular in your likes and dislikes you might also want to ensure that there is an exchange box.

          1. Do you know where his dropoff spots are?
            I Googled them but their website seems to be dead...
            Do you maybe have their email address?

            2 Replies
            1. re: spankyhorowitz

              In the past there was a drop off at Coop de la maison vert on Sherbrooke St. West near Melrose. This time of year Stephen oftens goes abroad to visit family so may be hard to reach him.

              1. re: rooibus

                Is equiterre missing CSAs? I don't see La Ferme Zephyr on their list, although I do see his website. I aslo don't see Glenorra (http://glenorra.com/paniers.html) there, although they sent me an email telling me they're currently taking subscribers. I seem to remember their being more CSAs in the plateau and city centre last summer?

            2. Hi all,

              I wanted to bump up this thread in preparation for the spring CSA sign-up. I have just moved to Montreal and don't want to miss the opportunity to get on a CSA list. Equiterre says the 2008 list will be posted on March 4. I'm looking for a CSA preferably with a drop-off spot in Mile End. Or somewhere along Parc between Pine and Bernard. I need to have something to look forward to!! La Ferme Zephyr looks amazing, but the drop-off is pretty far out of my way. Other suggestions?? Thanks.

              1. I've been using ferme Mange Tout for the past 2 spring-fall basket and am really happy with them. I used Zephyr the year before that. I really like Mange-Tout, and tey now have three basket sizes. (Regular, half-share - a regular but every 2 weeks, and family size). They dropped off at Coop La Maison Verte in NDG on Tuesdays in the past. I'm not sure if they would also drop off at another location.

                5 Replies
                1. re: lorie

                  Hi Lorie, thanks for the info about Mange-Tout. (I saw their flyers around NDG last year and thought their logo was very cute!) How did your experience with them compare to Zephyr? I used to do CSA with the precursor of Zephyr (Le potager du chef) back in 1997-99, had some beefs with it, and gave up on CSA altogether - but the Mange-Tout site looks very organized, and I could perhaps be lured back. Would be curious to hear more about why you switched, and how they differ. Thanks!

                  1. re: kpzoo

                    Hi kpzoo, the flyers are out again, so you should try to go to their info session if you can. The farmer is very nice, and they are very approachable. As I understand, they are moving their farm this year and are hoping this will translate to an ever better crop output.

                    In terms of why I switched - I wanted to give the new Mange Tout a chance, and they also offered the half share option on a weekly basis. This has changed, though, for next year. Most farms it seems that do the half-share option just let you get a basket every two weeks.

                    The great thing about Mange-Tout is they are very organized and communicative, and of course, their farm's produce is great. They send an email out a few days before the basket is ready to let you know what to expect for that week and to provide recipes using the ingreadients. Sometimes they even provide information or links to the lesser known veggies. They also include updates and photos of the farm and how it's doing.

                    I made a mistake though, it wasn't Zephyr, it was Abondance that I joined in my first year, so I can;t tell you how it compares to Zephyr. Sorry!

                    1. re: lorie

                      It's funny, I had a very different experience with mange-tout. I found their e-mails very misleading, as they would imply that certain crops would be in the basket that week, then the veggies on offer at pick up were invariably different from the ones mentioned.

                      One week last year they sent out an e-mail about how the leeks might not look so hot, but were still perfectly edible, there were a whole bunch of leek recipes, and tips on storing leeks. Guess what? No leeks.
                      It was very hard to plan ahead.

                      That said, they were extremely efficient at the drop off, and the quallity of produce was top notch.

                      1. re: Moosemeat

                        Thanks, Lorie & Moosemeat, for the feedback on Mange-tout. MM - did you ever ask them about the veggie discrepancy? That's a bit odd. Unexpected weather shifts, maybe?

                        Looks like I've missed the latest info session, but I'll probably check it out further. Thanks again!

                        1. re: kpzoo

                          I asked near the end of last season, and was basically told that their priority is farming, then xyz, ect. ect. Slapping together an e-mail comes near the bottom of the list. Fair enough I guess, but it is a damned inconvenience.

                2. I was with Zephyr for 2.5 years up to 2 summers ago, and I dropped out the year membership skyrocketed b/c he had taken Allison Hackney's members (she had taken a year off). That combined with a bad growing season, the baskets that year were very small and filled with not all that interesting veggies to me. There were very small quantities of all the raw edible vegetables I loved and lots of potatoes and onions and other cooking veggies. They put a lot of pressure to volunteer at the farm during the summer also. Stephen Homer is known as a gourmet farmer (at least that's how he is constantly written up in the papers), but in those years I really had the feeling he put his restaurant customers first wrt variety. I never saw a zucchini flower in my basket, and sugar snap peas were limited to a tiny bag per season. Cucumbers were around for 1 week. Tomatoes were like, take 2 of the big ones and 3 of the little ones. You can have 4 corn (we planted so many but the raccoons ate them all).

                  I finally gave up and decided to gorge on all the stuff I love from JTM during the growing season. I buy my organic veggies and fruits from the Jardin Mil'herbes (http://www.jardinsmilherbes.com) on the southwest corner of row 4. She is not affiliated with Equiterre, but she has strawberries, ground cherries, melons, many types of heirloom potatoes, tomatoes and lots of other amazing organic fruits and veggies. Financially, it made more sense to control my own quantities rather than rely on a limited basket with 50% stuff I like and 50% I have to get through.

                  My friend has been with Tournesol the past few years, and I've been really impressed with her veggies. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but lots of lettuces, leafy greens, cute squash in the fall. That one's worth looking at too. I know they had a waiting list last year, but they sell their weekly extras at the Ste-Anne's market and Finnegans' market on weekends.

                  1. Does anyone have a CSA recommendation for a CSA that has drop-offs near Mont Royal or Laurier?

                    I'm interested in good value/variety for money, otherwise I might as well just shop at JTM.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: eoj

                      I'm looking for a CSA with a droppoff between McGill and the lower plateau, or that general vicinity. These are the ones I've found that look most convenient:

                      Les Jardins de Tessa
                      Metro Beaudry

                      Les Jardins du Petit Tremble
                      right at the mont royal metro

                      Potager Andre Samson
                      a drop not too far from Laurier metro, and another at Parc and Milton near McGill

                      Farm Cadet-Roussel
                      droppoffs are a bit far from the metro in the plateau

                      dropoff is pretty close to mcgill, on st. urbain near duluth

                      Can anyone tell me anything about any of these CSAs? I'm looking for one that grows more gourmet and heirloom vegetables, ideally, or at least some less common ones up here like okra and collards and jalepenos.

                      1. re: paperfree

                        if you are affiliated with mcgill, trying the student run CSA in SSMU might be a good idea.

                        you buy your "share" a week ahead of time in 10 dollar increments since the shares are supposed to be for a single student living in an appartment. so you can get a 10 dollar share or a 40 dollar share, depending on your needs. They also have transformed products (baked stuff, jam...)

                        I think i will be trying SSMU this spring. But i envey those of you that are close to JTM. Atwater is convinient for me, but i am still learning where to buy stuff which stands are worth buying from.

                        1. re: hala

                          I found it: http://organiccampus.blogspot.com/

                          There's not a whole lot of information about the CSA, but I suppose it's an option. It sounds like it would be a bit more expensive than one of the other CSAs, as I can't imagine a $10 box designed for one student has much in it. I'm vegetarian and I eat a lot of produce, so I'd have to get two shares at least. Did anyone get this box last year? Any more thoughts about it?

                          1. re: paperfree

                            i get my stuff at jardins des petits trembles, my share is costing me right now 31.6 dollars per box. If you get three shares at organic campus, it is pretty much the same quantity of veggies. I went there a couple of times to take a look at the shares. If anything, they might be getting a little bit more veggies for the same amount of money. AND, they have some fruit in their shares which i only ever got once (1# apples).

                            you should also keep in mind that the shares are not as abundant as summer shares since weather is bad and storage costs money.

                            1. re: hala

                              "AND, they have some fruit in their shares which i only ever got once (1# apples"

                              Is this a season-specific issue, or did you not get fruits during the summer season as well? That would be a bummer. Any CSAs with fruit selection, delivering around the Sherbrooke or Mt Royal stations?

                              1. re: emerilcantcook

                                All the ones on my list had melons in the summer, and most had berries too, and apples in the fall I believe. I think one offered pears.

                                1. re: emerilcantcook

                                  i recently moved to montreal, so, i don't know if they usually have fruit in the baskets or not. they do offer a separate share of fruit for an extra 10 dollars but i find it easier to just buy fruit at atwater or the grocery store since we are a bit picky about fruit.

                      2. For the 2008 season I joined Ferme du Zephyr with Stephen Homer and I loved it. They are actually located on the Island of Montreal, in Senneville, you can't get much more local than that! Sure some of the vegetables I really wanted weren't always there but that is the whole risk and (I find) excitement of the CSA system. I do it because I love to know where my food comes from, and to support local farmers.

                        I picked up my basket in NDG at the Coop la maison verte on Thursdays. Zephyr sets up a wonderful market there on the pick up day and they also hold another market all day Saturday throughout the summer. Their heirloom tomatoes this past season were to die for. There's a weekly pick up option and a bi weekly. I went with the bi weekly and always had enough food. The food always looked great and there was always plenty of it in the basket. I will definitely be returning to Zephyr this summer! I believe they also have a drop off point in Pointe Claire.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: solid_beat

                          Does Zephyr still set up a market on Thursdays for those not in a CSA currently cause if they do I would definitely take advantage of that

                          1. re: blondee_47

                            Yes. It should start by the end of the month. At least, that's what the mailing list said a while ago. When I get an official date I'll post it.

                        2. We did Terre Bleue for about 5 years. Bailed this year just because the weekly pickup in NDG was to difficult for us. Nothing wrong with their produce. Wicked corn.
                          I'd like to point out that there's a built in disappointment factor to the whole thing. You don't get to choose your own produce. It's that simple. So it's always a "why this and not that?" sort of situation. You have to go in with the right attitude, to make it work.
                          This year we're taking the $500 we spent on the organic box and budgeting it for the street market in Outremont, JTM, or any other good organic location. Can anyone add to the list of retail organics?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: everyonelovessushi

                            I am with Cadet-Roussel, and it's pretty good. It is hard to comparem as we do not know what the others pay or what they get in their baskets.

                            SO . . .SUGGESTION:
                            I am looking for members of other CSA's who are willing to make a list of what they get each week. and submit it via email.
                            I will compile the data and then we can have a pretty good comparison. This may help others chhose their CSA, or give suggestions to exisitg members what they can ask for from their CSA's.

                            If you are a member and receive a small basket (we have 3 sizes to choose from), please email me at nosher at ethicurean dot com.

                            1. re: spankyhorowitz

                              I like this idea. I actually came here this afternoon to know what other ppl got in their basket this week, and maybe help identify some of the veggies I got (my boyfriend picked it up and did not ask for info) and uses for them. Maybe we could start a thread about it, since it is quite local?

                              1. re: Em24

                                I get winter baskets from Jardins des Petit Trembles because they'll deliver, which such an excellent option when it is -30C out and root veggies are so heavy. Plus I order a bag of organic fruit for an extra $10 which is always a lot more delicious than anything in supermarkets at that time of year. Usually we get a good selection of beets, potatoes, onions, navets, carrots, topinambours, celery, various squash. Plus they send out an email with recipes and nutrition info on each week's basket. I generally end up making a lot of coucous and pureed soups.

                                I haven't tried a summer basket yet since we're always running around in the summer and a friend once told me her basket (from a different farm) was usually lettuce, lettuce and more lettuce.

                              2. re: spankyhorowitz

                                I'm all for it, as I'm curious to know what others are getting from different farms. I'm with Potager Samson (second year), and they only have one basket size (good for 2 vegetables lovers or a "normal" family of 3-4). Last year was great in terms of quality, variety and quantity, despite the generalized so-so growing conditions. This summer, the first basket was delayed one week due to the weather and it started on the 26th.

                                1. re: Chocolatine

                                  if you want to participate, please email me.

                            2. I know I am late in the season - I need a great CSA recommendation(s) that has a drop-off point in the NDG area: any suggestions and I will see if they are full or not.

                              Thank you...cause I am fed up with local groceries and can't get to the farmers markets.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: blondee_47

                                Ferme du Zéphyr and Ferme Mange-Tout both have a drop-off point at Coop la Maison Verte on Sherbrooke west. Having tried both, I think I slightly prefer Zephyr. But, they also set up a small market in front of la Coop every week. You can get a better choice and really buy what you need.

                                I know Zéphyr is there bi-weekly, thursdays and saturdays if I remember correctly and Mange-Tout once a week. I can find the details if you need.

                              2. Anothing option to consider for those of you affiliated with McGill (there seems to be a lot of us on this board) is the CSA that the students run at Shatner. They sell baskets that cost multiples of $10 and you order them 1 week before. So, you can get $30 one week and $10 the next if you want. They also have a several "farmers markets" every year.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: hala

                                  Have you used the McGill CSA? I have just moved to Montreal and saw this http://www.cooplesjardinsdelaresistan...

                                  Has anyone used them? Seems a bit pricey though, but I like their ethos.

                                2. Received this in the mail today
                                  full service in your garden