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Chestnut Farms CSA

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I'm wondering if anyone has experience with receiving meat shares from the Chestnut Farms CSA. We've been trying to eat more "natural" meat lately, and this seems like a good option. If you've participated in this CSA before, could you please tell me what you thought of the quality of the meat, the variety, etc. Thanks!

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  1. I'm not familiar with it but if anyone else is curious (like I was) the website is http://www.chestnutfarms.org and the local dropoff point is in Arlington.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Chris VR

      Yes, sorry I should have mentioned that. We live in Arlington, so it sounds like it would be convenient. I just don't want to commit to 10 lbs of meat per month and then be disappointed with the cuts or quality, so I'm hoping someone has a recommendation.

      1. re: MrsCheese

        I would recommend calling the farm and asking if you can get some samples. This is especially important if you have never had pastured meat before. It is usually more flavorful, and often has a different texture (beef especially). Some people really just don't like it.

        You can also ask them for examples of what cuts they have shipped in the last few months. I have not dealt with a farm yet that was not very forthcoming about what you can expect. You should also make sure you know what the "terms" are in the event that have some kind of major problem. For example, our farm lost all the piglets last spring. We were buying a half hog so it was no real problem for us - it was just delivered later than expected - but in a csa situation, I would want to know how they handle something like this.

    2. Please do post a review if you decide to try it out - I too am very curious. Have been ordering beef from River Rock, but a CSA with a variety of animals would be a nice change from a freezer full of (admittedly delicious) beef.

      tia

      2 Replies
      1. re: valatiekil

        I'm waiting to get through the meat that's currently in my freezer, then I think we're going to go for it. I'll be sure to post a review. I had an email exchange with someone in Arlington who splits a share and she's been pleased. She said the quality is excellent and they've gotten a nice variety (in the last couple of months for instance: hamburger, flank steak, lamb chops, leg of lamb, chicken breasts, ground pork, sweet and Italian sausage).

        1. re: MrsCheese

          I've gotten two monthly installments from Chestnut Farms, and have been extremely pleased with them. Everything is great, but their chicken legs in particular are surprisingly tasty.

      2. I'd consider splitting a share, if anyone is interested. My addresss is in my profile.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Chris VR

          Any idea how much the 6-month subscription costs? I live in Arlington, and would be interested in splitting a share as well.

          1. re: Raedia

            Pricing is on this page; http://www.chestnutfarms.org/index.ph...

        2. Don't know CF but would like to find others interested in Plato's Harvest csa. They are organic & offer eggs too. 475 full/250 half. We'd need to alternate pick ups. I am in Cambridge.

          1 Reply
          1. re: salty

            Sam, the son of the farm directors, sells eggs (sometimes including Araucana eggs!) through the Chestnut Farms CSA. $3/dozen.

          2. Hey there - I've been a Chestnut Farms CSA member since its inception at the Arlington drop point. I can speak to the quality of the meat that I get on a monthly basis and also to the quality and taste of the Thanksgiving turkeys!

            Not only do I get the benefit of eating what is, in my opinion, the healthiest meat I could possibly buy, but I get to support a fantastic family owned business that's doing things The Old Fashioned Way.

            Chestnut Farms is very, very highly recommended. :-D

            1 Reply
            1. re: rob.sterner

              I just joined this month and am currently cooking beef stew (with the stew beef) in the crock pot as I write this. We also got Lamb Shoulder chops, Chicken Breasts, Pork Chops, Pork Sausage Patties, ground beef and Steak tips. It all looked quite good, and i liked that it was a good variety. I'm pretty excited about it. Will know more when I go home tonight and taste the beef stew. It's more meat than I'm used to(10lbs/month -for 2 adults), so we'll see how it goes, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

            2. We have a Chestnut Farms CSA share, and we really love it. We started in January 2008.

              We get the 10 lb share with no lamb, and we've gotten to try a great range of meats so far. There's always a good mix of cheaper (stew beef, ground meats, chicken legs) and pricier cuts (chicken breast, steaks, brisket, pork chops), along with sausages and/or a whole roasting chicken. I feel that they make a conscientious effort to make sure that we get a refreshingly different mix each time.

              They always have great eggs, and sometimes you can buy extra roasting chickens
              and huge soup/dog treat bones.

              The meat does taste different- I notice it most in the beef- and we like it better, but I know this is a personal thing and some people just don't like it. You might want to try some grass-raised meats before you commit to a CSA share (I think Verrill Farm sells to the public).

              This is the best decision we've ever made about the meat we choose to eat. The price really is worth it when you consider what you're getting- tasty local meat that is raised and butchered humanely, and the chance to support local farmers!

              11 Replies
              1. re: sfumato

                Does anyone know of a meat CSA that would be willing to hand-out a Pork-free share? We don't eat pork at all (including bacon, sausages etc), but I know that this is generally the cheapest of the meats to raise, so I understand why it is featured so prominently in most meat CSA's.

                1. re: Cork

                  Chestnut Farms will do this, but I think they may be currently "sold out" - you should call and ask anyway. I'd look up Stillman and ask them as well.

                  1. re: Cork

                    Yep- Chestnut Farms will do this.

                    1. re: Cork

                      I think Stillman's will accomodate a no-pork share - they've agreed to give us a no-lamb share. When I signed up for July a few weeks ago, there were still shares available. I like that Stillman's also has a quarter share available (5 lbs/mo).

                    2. re: sfumato

                      Chestnut Farms sells to the public at the Arlington Farmer's market, if you want to try theirs out. Always great stuff - they seemed to have a good variety, although the CSA members get the best of the best. I liked their chicken, steaks, and sausages.

                      1. re: sfumato

                        Just a quick update- we're into month 7 of our yearly share, and we really, really love it. We will never go back to any other meat. We always get a nice variety of essentials + something new and interesting. Kim and Rich are really great, too- responsive, friendly, and knowledgeable. I love that we're really getting to know them (they know everyone by name, and there are a LOT of us!), and that we can feel good about the meat we eat. This CSA is totally worth it!

                        1. re: sfumato

                          Do they buy some of their meat from outside sources? It seems their CSA is quite large and yet their farm isn't that large (106 acres is a lot by factory farming standards but not that much by sustainable agriculture standards).

                          I'm so glad to see more interest from people in buying their meat this way, but I worry that the demand may be outstripping the supply, so I'm curious to hear what farmers are doing to "fill in" when they can't meet the needs of the CSA.

                          Houde Family Farm has a cap of 70 members (almost reached) and sent us all an email when they realized that they might need to source some of their beef from another local farmer (who he had visited and talked to and felt comfortable with.) They weren't going to do it if the CSA didn't approve. I really appreciate that consideration. We've grown so used to the consistency- the meat is exactly the same each month, which I hadn't realized we never got at the grocery store when we were buying meat there. I'd liek to think we'd have noticed if the meat came from somewhere else! As David said to us, you can't grow a cow overnight (I think it takes about 18 months to get to maturity), and so it makes me wonder how a larger CSA like Chestnut Farm or Stillman manages when the needs of the CSA are growing by leaps and bounds, probably outpacing the supply until they manage to catch up.

                          1. re: Chris VR

                            I think they (Chestnut Farms) provide all their own meat. They have had a waiting list for membership, and they're running pretty much at capacity. It has taken years to build their herd to this level, and they didn't push the CSA until they were ready to do so (5-6 years between starting the farm and launching the CSA). I went to one of their open houses, and they have a lot of animals. So yes, it is possible for a family farm to produce that volume of meat, but you're right that it can't happen overnight.

                            1. re: nfo

                              I tried to join a couple of months ago, and there were no openings for a meat CSA. I was added to a waiting list in case folks didn't renew, but received notice that they didn't have room for new members.

                              1. re: nfo

                                Yes, I assume that they provide all their meat. They seem like the kind of honest people who would advertise the info otherwise, and I have never heard anything about them getting meat from other sources.

                            2. re: sfumato

                              Another update- we've done their CSA (10 lb/month, no lamb share) for over a year now. We LOVE it. Wouldn't change a thing! Everything is really tasty, and we get a fabulous selection of expensive and cheap (but GOOD cheap, like flank steak) cuts. It is, by far, THE BEST decision we've ever made about the meat we consume.

                          2. Thumbs up, all the way, from my wife and I. We've been doing Chestnut Farms since August or so, and it has been fantastic. The best pork chops I've ever had, and really nothing has been a let down. Once we did get bacon that was nearly all fat, but I've since found out that that is not an uncommon thing for flavoring. We currently have bacon from them that looks fantastic, maybe I'll thaw it tonight!

                            The lambchops were excellent, and the sausages are really good as well. Frequently they offer eggs for sale at the dropoff, as well as bring along friends from neighboring farms that offer eggs, duck eggs, baked goods, etc.

                            1. I have a 1/4 share with Stillman's. Everything has been excellent, and pick up in JP is very convenient.

                              1. We just picked up this month's share, and to our delight, we have those UNBELIEVABLY delicious pork chops. We have a 10-lb share, and it is fantastic. It lasts just about the month - I do not have to buy any proteins from the grocery store anymore! I particularly love the hamburgers (they package about 4 patties as well as a pound or so of ground beef per share). The tastiest burger I have eaten!! The chicken legs are great, the lamb chops and the the lamb sausage are so flavorful (you can opt in to lamb or choose not to have it in your share). This meat is so good, we really get excited each time we cook a meal - joining the Chestnut Farms CSA is the greatest food sourcing move we have made. Encourage anyone who is interested in a meat CSA to get on the waiting list - you will be happy you joined!

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Small Plates

                                  So I'm in my first month, so far so good. We did like the burger patties, but found the other ground beef to be completely unsuitable for burgers. Between the low fat content and the freezing, it just doesn't hold together in patty form very well - particularly if grilling. Is this something other folks encounter or am I just being picky?

                                  In terms of selection I was a little disappointed - out of my 10 pounds I got 2 lbs of ground beef, 1 lb of hamburger patties, 1 lb of beef stew meat, 1 lb of sausage patties, another of links and then some chicken. Everything tasted good but it was literally 50% ground meat. Oh well, we'll see what next month has in store for us :)

                                  So far our favorite has been the chicken. Even with minimal effort it's come out tremendous.

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    We've been in the CF CSA for two years now. Your haul sounds pretty typical for a summer month -they usually have more burgers and links, grilling cuts. I think we've gotten two pounds of ground beef in almost every share. Kim wrote in a newsletter a couple of years ago that ~40% of the meat on a cow is only suitable for ground beef. I don't really mind - with two small kids and a hubby who would eat meatloaf every night, I have no problem using it all :-)

                                    Ive used the ground beef for hamburgers, but I don't do much to it, must shape the patties and cook them in a cast iron pan instead of on the grill. Mostly I make meatballs for tomato sauce or soup, meatloaf (a 2:1 ratio with their ground pork in my favorite), and the ddeok galbi recipe from the Aeri's Kitchen website.

                                    The sausage patties are too spicy for my kids so I used them in place of sweet sausage when I make spaghetti sauce. Ive got a pack or two in the freezer, Can't wait for the tomatoes to
                                    ripen!

                                    1. re: gimlis1mum

                                      Oh it's fine, just not what I expected. I make my own sausage & grind my own meats, so having half my share be stuff I'd prefer to do myself was what was disappointing. It still all tasted quite good, and it's not like I'm regretting my decision - all in all, I'm a fan so far.

                                      I'm still waiting for their (non-ground) pork, I've heard great things.

                                      The first time I made burgers out of the beef I quickly realized that the cast iron was going to have to suffice. From what I've seen, she tends to advocate making burgers a lot, which is what made me think that I have to be missing something as it seems wholly unsuitable for that purpose.

                                      1. re: gimlis1mum

                                        I love the ground beef - but I often use it in stir-fry type recipes instead of using strips of beef, and think it works great for that. I've only made burgers a few times (and they did stay together, but took gentle handling - totally worth it for the taste!).

                                        I add spices to the ground pork according to an Italian sausage recipe, then freeze that & later use it in pasta dishes, or I use the ground pork along with beef in meatballs - great to keep frozen & toss in a pasta sauce or soup for a quick low-stress teen-pleasing meal.

                                        I use the breakfast sausage patties in place of the ground pork in tourtieres (cutting back on the sage & pepper in the recipe) and LOVE it - I never made it before this, but the ones I've made this way are better than anything my dad has picked up in Berlin NH. (Probably less authentic, but tastier & moister. :-)

                                      2. re: jgg13

                                        Re: burgers holding together -- we've been grilling burgers using the Chestnut Farms ground beef for over a year now and we've never had a problem with them holding together. I'm trying to think of what we might be doing differently, but we give them pretty minimal treatment -- s&p and a drizzle of olive oil. I worried they'd be too lean but they've been delicious.

                                        1. re: stomachofsteel

                                          There are two ways I've found to make hamburgers with theCF ground beef. One is to put it on a plate, let it drain a bit, squeeze lightly to let more water run out, squeeze when forming the patty, then handle as little as possible. I think this is a result of freezing and thawing rather than somethng about the meat.

                                          The other way is to just throw an egg in, and some bread crumbs. Flavorings optional. Changes the texture of the burger but on the plus side you get more burgers and they hold together *perfectly*.

                                          1. re: betsys

                                            I like the idea of trying to get some of the moisture out. I found that the vacupacks tend to have a lot of moisture in them, particularly the ground beef. I actually tried doing that a wee bit the second time I made patties. I usually make burgers on my cast iron anyways so it's not a big deal but it'd be nice to be able to bring patties to a cookout or something.

                                            And yeah, totally agree that the flavor of the beef is great.

                                    2. We just joined after several months of buying meat at the Arlington Farmer's Market. Maybe they have more room now, or maybe we were able to squeak in because we wanted only a small share, with lamb no pork.

                                      They said this month is pork season - our first share had beef and lamb but no chicken. Mmm, their lamb sausage is SO GOOD!

                                      We're going to stop buying meat from places that aren't humane and sustainable. We don't want to support factory farming. I have no problems with eating meat but I want to know that the animals we're eating have not suffered. And it's a win-win for our own health too.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: betsys

                                        Another positive review of Chestnut Farms. If you can get on a waiting list, I highly suggest it. We've been members for about a year. The only drawback is menu planning is tough sometimes because I have to figure out what to thaw and what to do with certain cuts. But that's me and my cooking learning curve. The meat, chicken, lamb and pork is fantastic. We've noticed such a difference when we eat factory farmed products. The taste is sooo much better, the chicken is delish and meatier. I love the monthly emails from Kim and Rich about the goings on at the farm. I actually look forward to them every month. They really care for their animals and that makes me feel so good about purchasing from them. I don't know if I could go back to 100% factory farmed products. I highly recommend them. Also as someone stated above, they sell at the Arlington Farmer's Market if you want to try some products to check them out.