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Seattle - CSA's and Wine clubs

Hey folks - I'm a recent transplant to the northwest (coming back to fiancee's native grounds), and it looks like after months of travelling and general non-employed vacation time, we decided to finally get our butts in gear and find jobs and a place in the seattle area.

So, I am looking for reccs on two things:

- a good, reasonably priced CSA : in San Diego I was lucky enough to be part of the Be Wise Ranch CSA, although we had to eventually stop due to having far too much food for two people (and far too much mizuna/chard/collards for anybody!). The produce was lovely, and the price was reasonable - came to about 20 dollars for a box every two weeks.

is there anything similar up here? I've looked around and found a lot of organic delivery and such, but that seems a lot more expensive. Preferably a CSA that lets you pick your produce to a degree would be great too.

- a wine club or something similar: a bunch of my family and friends back in california do this kind of thing, and from the events ive gone to with them it seems to be a great way to meet people and put things on the social calendar. I know Washington makes some great wine, but I'm not sure how big the scene is in seattle.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I just picked up a flyer for Seattle Uncorked. www.seattleuncorked.com. Haven't tried anything with them so far, but the membership fee is waived if you sign up before July '08.

    1. I just signed up for Full Circle Farm's CSA after some good recommendations from friends. I can't speak to quality yet as I get my first box on Thursday. I will say that the website is very easy to navigate, specifically identifies Northwest-grown and/or Full Circle Farm-grown items and they allow substitutions. Check it out at fullcirclefarm.com and I'll try and post a review when I get the box.

      8 Replies
      1. re: yoyo11

        Awesome! let me know how it goes.

        I did check out the Uncorked thing, I might join up just because it's free =)

        1. re: yoyo11

          I've signed up for full circle farms in the past, they're very nice and the produce is great too. There was this one time I got a few unwelcome visitors on my broccoli but they totally made it right by giving me a little something in the next box I got. The only reason we stopped is that I still find it challenging to eat my fruits and veggies (sorry, I'm more of a junk food girl). So basically I stopped doing CSA period, I didn't swap to someone else. If I ever go back to it, I'll totally join full circle again. I think they even have eggs and some other stuff now.

          1. re: lollybird

            This was our problem too, heh.....but we have made a greater commitment to eating lots of fruits and veggies now. As long as I can substitute stuff like collards and broccoli, I'll be fine with a small box. Any idea if they do bi-weekly?

            1. re: Jeters

              absolutely - that was one of the things we loved about them. They were also really great about us postponing boxes which we would periodically do when the veggies got just too much for me and I had to have a junk food break. I must have postponed at least 3 of my 10-box set. It took months for me to get through the entire lot.

              1. re: Jeters

                ok, see, now you're guilting me into thinking about going back to my healthful ways.

                  1. re: Jeters

                    why are you off bread? I had to get away from white bread for a couple of reasons, so now I'm on ezekiel bread (sesame, and cinnamon raisin) and the crushed wheat sourdough from trader joes. Had to go to all the grocery stores in the area to read every single ingredients list. Now, practically the only time I have white bread is when I hit Wibbleys for my weekly burger.

                    1. re: lollybird

                      I found out gluten was what made my insides go wonky =(

                      thankfully it's not so serious that I can't have *any*, I think I'd stop living. but I've had to scale way back on bread and pasta.

          2. I use Nature's Last Stand for my CSA delivery and am very happy with them. Yes, you get critters sometimes but nothing that you wouldn't see if you grew your own vegetables organically. My husband and I get a small box every two weeks for $35. It's the right amount for us. http://www.natureslaststand.net/

            The Pike Place Market also operates something like this and I've done that in the past. The quality and variety of produce was a tad higher but it was more expensive, the boxes were bigger and therefore more than my husband and I could use, and you had to pick them up at the market.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lauren

              I used to belong to the Pike Place Market CSA. THey are discontinued.

              For a wine club--you mean tastings and the like? lots of wine shops have free and pay tastings--try Pike and Western, Esquin, McCarthy and Schiering. Chateau Ste. Michelle is close by and has wine events. Tons of restaurants do wine dinners. The magazine Northwest Palate always has some listings. Culinary Communion does cooking classes and tasting classes.

            2. Oh, and for wine clubs - I would start checking out some of the wine dinners that most restaurants offer these days. I've met some very interesting people at them and we've gone on to drink much wine together!

              1. CSA: I've been using Full Circle Farm as our winter CSA, we get a small box of organic veggies and fruit every other week ($29/box). I really like their system, you can make up to five substitutions per box, you can suspend your service if you're going to be out of town, you can order additional items from their "green grocer" section, they denote what they grow themselves, what's sourced from other PNW growers, and what's not local.

                Wine Club: Verve Wine Bar in Columbia City does tastings Tues evenings, price is $5-10 and they pour 5-7 wines. Esquin does free tastings on Thur evenings and Sat afternoons. I really like Wine Outlet, they have open bottles to taste every day, I highly recommend checking them out this Sunday (3/30) during their pig roast.

                1. Got our first Full Circle Farm CSA Box yesterday. I will say that I'm very impressed. It seems like a good deal and will certainly force us to eat more healthy. In fact, I tasted my first sunchoke last night which was actually grown at the farm and it was delicious.

                  Anyway, anything can happen in the future but as far as the first box goes, I highly recommend the service.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: yoyo11

                    Awesome, thanks for the update. Now I can't wait to move already and get my own kitchen so I can sign up =)

                  2. Anyone want credit for Full Circle Farms referral? Sounds like you get a free box. Send me an email with your first and last name so I can put it in the appropriate spot on my sign in. sf_princess at hotmail dot com

                    1. fullcirclefarm.com all the way. You're always getting the food at least a day or two before any PCC or other small organic market, I promise. A few pointers:
                      1) I never eat lettuce, and it seemed that lettuce was often an option for the weekly box. So, I added "lettuce" to my list of 3 items I never want in my box. That way, they substitute it for you, and you have an extra substitution to use.
                      2) try some of the local foods you thought you didn't like. You might find them more enjoyable when they are fresher.
                      3) Just accept the fact that you'll throw away some of the food. Every kitchen has waste.
                      It's no biggie. If you compost it, you'll still go to garbage heaven.

                      As for a wine club--check out Michael Cawdrey's shop- "Fremont Wine Warehouse".
                      He has regular tastings, he's most eager to help, all wines are under $25, and the man truly knows wine. Go.

                      1. CSAs are awesome, but I don't use one because I enjoy going to the Ballard Farmer Market so much (U-District is excellent too).
                        If you're new-ish to the area, I'd definitely look into your neighborhood's farmer's market.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: adamb0mb

                          Farmers' markets are great for eggs, meats, and a handful of specialty items, but if you were to buy a week's worth of produce, you'd spend a fortune, and the quality would be no better.

                        2. I wholeheartedly support the CSA concept. Especially those that focus on local produce. Full Circle Farm makes a good effort to stay local. However, during my subscription to their CSA, I had too many times where an item came up bad. One week it may have been that the green beans were moldy when they arrived. The next week may have been that the apples were so bruised and dented that they had to go straight to applesauce. And the next week may have been that the mixed greens were already slimy upon arrival. You get the picture. Full Circle was very accomodating to send a fresh batch the next week without any additional charge. But the repeated inconvenience prompted me to the stop the subscription.

                          I subscribed to the Pike Place Market Basket for years and never had product quality issues so these repeated issues with Full Circle produce was very disappointing.

                          If anyone can recommend other CSAs, I'd be interested in knowing about them. Till then, farmer's markets or farm visits are my answer.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: goofygamine

                            I can wholeheartedly recommend the Growing Washington CSA. Unfortunately, they aren't currently running. They will start up in June and run through October and then they will also have a winter CSA this year. I had maybe three bad items all of last summer and that was before they started making sure that the berries and salad mix weren't pre-packed in hot weather. Once they did that, I didn't have any bad items.

                            Pricing wise, I found them to be just a tad cheaper than if I bought the items on my own at the farmers markets. But the difference was very small.

                            Positives for them:
                            Everything is local. Absolutely local.
                            Web ordering, where you can pick your produce.
                            Smart management. If it's warm, they won't pack your berries in your box. They will give them to you fresh when you pick the box up.So no moldy or liquidy berries.
                            Multiple pickup locations (www.growingwashington.com/foodbox).
                            Two different box sizes.

                            Err... not positve there are a lot other than no delivery and the fact that they aren't currently running, but there are a lot of pickup locations. http://www.growingwashington.org/food...


                          2. Cascade Harvest Coalition just released their 2009 brochure of local CSAs: