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CSA 2009

OK, so there is over a foot of snow on the ground (at least where I live), but it's time to start thinking about spring veggies, at least if you want to get space in a CSA. What are people signing up for this year? Were you happy or unhappy with your past year's pick?

I have gone with Stillman's for several years, but took a break last year. I'm in a curious position of being next to farms, but still being 1 hour round trip drive from a pick-up location. I'd be better off in JP at my old address. I was happy with my Stillman's half-share, but never had any other experience. I'm also considering Drumlin Farms and someone in my town is trying to get a group together for Heavens Harvest Farm. So I'm very interested in hearing from others what they are doing.

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  1. I too have been thinking about this lately. I have had Stillman's and Chestnut Farms for meat CSAs but never had a veggie one- just relied on farmer's markets. I was thinking about Parker Farms but the all Cambridge pick ups don't really work for me. Has anyone tried Busa Farms in Lexington? You get "Busa Bucks" for your share and can shop at their farm stand whenever you like and get whatever veggies you like. You also get any of their "pick your own" stuff at half price. Sounds interesting because of the when and what you want part- but I also think that part of a CSA is the challenge of using what's in the box- cooking with stuff you might not normally get. I've never even been to their farm stand, so i don't know how it is. Anyone tried the CSA or the farm stand? thanks!

    3 Replies
    1. re: cjchow

      Cjchow --
      We've belonged to the Busa CSA for two years and I love it. We do a lot of our own picking (you have to do a lot of wandering around in the beginning to find the veg you're looking, but once you get the lay of the land it's not difficult), but the farm stand stocks everything that's being harvested in the field. Their corn and heirloom tomatoes are great, but my favorites are the lettuces (best I've ever had) and the many varieties of squash and eggplant. They don't grow everything, though -- notably no winter squashes or onions. You can buy other veg at their stand, but you can't use your Bucks for it -- can't use the Bucks at the farmer's market, either. They do have a greenhouse and grow a lot of annuals and perrenials and lots of herbs that you can use the bucks for.

      1. re: cjchow

        I had Parker Farms two years ago when he had a pickup at his farm. Now I have Waltham Farms which I like alot. But Parker Farms was great. It may be worth checking with Steve Parker and see if he's willing to set up another pickup location.

        1. re: chowmel

          Had Parker Farms last year, Central Sq. pickup. I liked Steve and wanted to support him, but I felt there wasn't enough variety in his share. We got the same vegetables over and over; a friend counted two months of tomatillos. Also, no heirloom tomatoes! So for 2009 I've gone back to Red Fire, which I had from 2005?–2007. Huge volume, great variety.

          I've also had CSAs from the Food Project and (waaaay back) Siena Farms's founder back when he was starting out on his parents' land! but the former's too long ago for my experience to be relevant now.

      2. We live in Billerica near the Carlisle corner and I'd love to do a CSA. However, the pick-up times seem to be at rush hour, mid-week, at inconvenient places to get to. Arlington, Lexington, Lincoln, etc. just don't work for us given the pick-up days and times I've seen posted.

        I'm looking forward to seeing what people post about their CSA options.

        Hutchins Farmstand in Concord is a quick jaunt but we can no longer afford their prices.

        1 Reply
        1. re: three of us

          I'm at the opposite end of B'rica, on the Wilm/Tewks corner. There are no half-share options that don't entail lots of driving time. I'll have to stick with the farmers' markets - last summer was the first since I retired, so I tried several of the nearest ones: Bedford, Carlisle, Lowell, Lexington, Westford, Andover. Lowell is the smallest, but has good prices and some interesting Asian-and-other-ethnic produce in addition to the all-American staples. The 2008 hours were Fri 3-7pm. East Street Farm in Tewks is a farmstand outlet for one of the farmers' markets regulars, open daily in summer.

        2. We just signed up for our second year at Drumlin. They've added a separate PYO option this year which raises the price a bit but it's worth it for the cherry tomatoes, peas, beans, strawberries, raspberries and herbs. We love it and recommend it wholeheartedly.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bugsmum

            Is the pickup for the Drumlin CSA far from the parking lot? The one time I saw them there was a big tent set up pretty farm inside the farm, which would add to pick up times when dragging two small kids with me. (Not to mention the "I want to see the cows/pigs/chickens/horse complaints") :)

          2. We did Red Fire farms (veggies and fruit, no meat) last year and absolutely loved it. I can't wait for it to start up again. They have lots of pick up spots- just google Red Fire farms to learn details. They're signing up for this season now I think, and it fills up fast.

            1. After close to a decade with Stillman's, Allstonian and I have pretty much decided that we're taking a break and not signing up for a CSA share this year. We have absolutely no complaints about Stillman's whatsoever, it's just that we've decided that this year, we're going to make better use of the various farmer's markets around us. Although we'll still be spending quite a bit of money with Stillman's at the Brookline and JP farmer's markets, we think we want to spread the wealth around a bit more this year: in particular, I want to see more growth at the Allston market this summer, and that'll only happen if we spend more money there, and that'll only happen if we don't already have a giant box of stuff coming from Stillman's every week!

              It'll also be nice to have more spontaneity in what we get from one week to the next.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                This has been my MO for years. I enjoy meeting all of the farmers and going to different markets. I also have weeks when I have a lot of deadlines and will do take out or dine out instead of cooking.

                I do miss my farmers this time of year but Boston Organics helps. We eat a lot of fruit so that is a good option for us.

                Thanks for supporting a new market. I heard a rumor that there may be an attempt to start a Thursday market at the Pru in the Back Bay. Then I would have one more market within easy walking distance. But, I do like going to Brookline on Thursdays when I need something or just want to see a different choice of providers.