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CSA Review

I'm thinking of getting a CSA again next year (last year I relied on farmer's markets, and I just didn't get there enough). I'm wondering if those that got a CSA in 2007 would mind giving a brief review of their experiences. Perhaps pros and cons and your delivery location? I'm in Somerville, but I would think that people would appreciate hearing about CSAs that deliver to other locations around Boston as well.

Lastly, I did try doing a search but didn't see any kind of roundup for 2007. Feel free to correct me if I missed something.

Thanks very much!

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  1. Parker Farm CSA delivers to Davis, Porter, and Central Squares (and at the farm in Lunenburg). Super friendly farmer Steve (and Steve Jr. his trusty sidekick) delivers great produce in large and small shares. This year delivered a little less variety than last, with a few crop failures like winter squash, and fewer yummy mushrooms than last year, but that's the risk you take with a CSA. Still, a huge variety of greens, lots and lots and lots of corn, potatoes and beets and other roots, broccoli and other cabbage-like things, beans both green and shell, etc. etc. etc. Steve also goes out of his way to trade or buy fruit (apples, peaches, etc.) from his neighbors along with some (fantastic) watermelons of his own. He's also very flexible: having someone pick up your share when on vacation, going out to the farm, etc.

    There's also a great community feel at least at the Davis pickup; it's a great way to meet like-minded neighbors. We've definitely in for next year.

    http://community.livejournal.com/park...
    http://web.mac.com/parkerfarm

    1. I belong to Waltham Fields Community Farm. They do a pick up in Somerville, I believe, but I go to Waltham so that I can be AT the farm, which is part of the fun. Plus the pick-your-own things are there. It is the best thing I've done in years.
      Pros: Tons of fresh veggies that will literally fill your fridge each week. Getting close to where your food comes from. Community spirit. Volunteering. Being at the farm. Cool farmers and farm workers.
      Cons: Tons of fresh veggies - you really need to eat at home nearly every night otherwise there will be fridge chaos. Or share extras with friends and family. Organizational skills come in very handy, as well as some tetris skills for knowing how to fit it all in the fridge without damaging delicate greens.

      1 Reply
      1. re: uman

        I am an omnivore and a CSA shareholder at Waltham Fields, having finished my third season.

        First, I second uman's pros/cons.

        Spoilage is the enemy and there can be a significant amount if you don't have someone to share, or long-term storage space, i.e., freezer, canning, etc. This year, I finally did a more formal share and got through many more veggies than in the past.

        Which is to say that you receive a ton of food every week. Fills one of those reuseable shopping satchels easily in the first weeks, and by full summer harvest, two or more. (For example, one week this summer, each share took home 20 lbs! of heirloom tomatoes, along with lots of other veggies. Many of them ended up in freezer bags for the winter months. One thing I promise - once you are a CSA shareholder, you will NEVER order a $12 for three slices of tomato heirloom tomato salad at a restaurant again!)

        The CSA price was $525 per share, which roughly breaks down to $20-25/week. It seems like you get at least as much as $20 worth of veggies each week.

        From a purely food angle, I would also add that the variety of veggies at Waltham (www.communityfarms.org) is really very high. Especially if you are into greens. If you do not like greens, the spring and fall can be a little overwhelming - what to do with all that chard? collards? KALE!?

        The pick-your-own is also integral to the experience. Several crops a week are pick-your-own, so presumably they are not part of the deliveries (Waltham has a Davis Sq. and Central Sq. drop-off during the week I think, but I always pickup on-site). Like uman, being at the farm is great - weekly therapy for me to walk the rows and take a breath. If you can make it out there, it's a far more enriching experience.

        The Waltham farm also has a significant non-profit charity side that does a lot of programming on the farm with kids and other volunteers - it also donates approx. 20% of the farm yield to area charities and food pantries. So if that helps the veggies go down easier, another good reason to pick Waltham.

      2. I had a Parker Farm share that I picked up at the farm in Lunenburg. I received a lot of food. Had a large share. Froze most of it and will be eating corn, greens, broccoli, soup, parsnips and tomato sauce all winter. What was received was certainly worth the cost. Produce always exceptional. However, he ended the farm pickup 2 or 3 weeks before the others, saying our share was less expensive so a shorter season. When we joined though he said the reduced cost was due to the decrease cost of his having to truck it out this way. Also, he didn't notify us at end of season that we could pick at the farm , like he did the other shares. These two things sit poorly with me. But he's not doing the farm pickup next year - so they shouldn't come into play again. Next year I'm trying Waltham CSA

        1. Hi ClippyZ,

          Last year we subscribed to Three Sisters Farm, which wasn't a great experience. They meant well, I trust, but the farm wasn't really ready for CSAs, and it was their first-ever time trying it. So, this year, we tried to sign up for Brookfield, but were late to the game, and got our names on the waiting list. Midsummer we were alerted by Brookfield that they could add us as shareholders for the rest of the season, and we jumped at the chance.

          So, with the disclaimer that we only recieved shares August through November, I'll say that we loved Brookfield. The quality was always high, as was the variety. We took advantage of the Arlington pick-up location (near where we live) which was terrifically convenient -- because the boxes of produce were housed in a fellow shareholder's garage, we could come as late as we needed to on pick-up days.

          We had a full share, which I found to be very reasonably priced, and though it sometimes proved too much food for just the two of us, I made a practice of giving out the surplus to happy friends. The Thanksgiving delivery was great, with LOTS of excellent squash, onions, potatoes, leeks, greens, cabbage, etc. I even hauled a big bag of produce on the plane with us to our family's T-giving destination; it made for a lovely organic T-giving dinner.

          I'll add that I really appreciate the helpful and informative newsletters that Brookfield sends out each week, and in general, I have found the farm folks to be super nice and helpful. Brookfield was, I think, the 3rd CSA to start in this country, so they have over 20 years experience at this. It shows. They're really organized.

          Bottom line: we're re-upping for next summer.

          1. We also did Parker Farm, which would be convenient for you. I would agree with the overall positive and negative remarks. Steve parker is very nice and we had more than enough mizuna kale and corn. Tomatoes were less than hoped for and variety in general was limited. Also, stopping a few weeks early with very little notice was a disappointment. Parker is a little less expensive than other CSAs in the area so that is a plus. We've moved to JP. Does anyone have feedback on the CSAs available for pickup in JP?

            9 Replies
            1. re: gourmaniac

              We're in JP and went with the Stillmans' CSA this year. They are the only farm at our "farm stand" on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I have no experience with other CSAs for comparison, but we were pretty happy this year. Nice variety and, we felt, good value for the $. You can check it out here: http://www.stillmansfarm.com/ One of the nice features is that for many weeks they give you a pre-filled box, then you choose additional stuff to customize.

              1. re: powella

                Plus, Aidan and the other Stillman folks couldn't be nicer or more helpful, I found. We didn't subscribe to their CSA, but before our Brookfield share kicked in in August, I did all my farmer's market shopping at their stand in Copley. Their produce was consistently excellent (and they have meat, too!).

                1. re: powella

                  Another vote for Stillman's here - my family have been members with both full and half shares over the past 7 years, and have been very happy. We were JP members until Aidan & Kate started up the Brookline option (which coincided with our giving up our dying car and relying on the T and Zipcar - it was great not to have to figure out how to carry our share on a 2-bus trip from JP!)

                  The variety seems a bit less exotic with the Brookline share, but Aidan is flexible to a fault and so pleasant to deal with! I enjoy our membership even more now.

                  1. re: powella

                    Count me in too! I have been a subscriber with Stillman's for over a year - for their meat as well - and it has been great to be able to benefit from both options. They are very flexible if you are unable to make a pick-up plus I like picking up in Brookline in front of the Clear Flour bakery which gives me an excuse to stock up there once a week as well.

                    I was happy with the quantity and quality of the produce this year.

                  2. I've been very eager to get in on this as well. I live on the South Shore (Milton), work in Boston, but get to the "other" side of the Charles very infrequently. It seems as though most CSAs I've read about here have Cambridge / Somerville drop offs. Unfortunately, that isn't really going to work for me. Any info on Boston proper drop offs or south of town options?

                    p.s. - my jaw dropped and pooled saliva when I read the list of produce supplied by the farmer above!!

                    1. re: Eddie Van Hungry

                      Wards Berry Farm in Sharon has a CSA. I haven't joined but have been to their market a lot. Their corn is excellent and they often win blue ribbons at the tomato contests in Boston each year. It would be about a 15-20 min drive for you from Milton. Wards is very close to Exit 8 off of 95 South.

                      1. re: Eddie Van Hungry

                        We're doing Heirloom Harvest w/ a pick-up at Crystal Spring. http://www.heirloomharvestcsa.com/

                        1. re: Eddie Van Hungry

                          Glen Stillman goes to the Quincy farmer's market on Friday. Great variety, and half shares are available.