- goldy12 Mar 22, 2009 09:36 AM
I know I'm a little behind here... My husband and I were thinking doing a CSA share this summer- does anyone have a specific farm they recommend? We've found some farms through slowfoodpgh.com, just wondering if anyone's had any good experiences with any of the local farms they'd like to share.
Depends on what you're looking for, where you live. We have been part of the CSA at Harvest Valley Farms in Valencia for the last 3 years. It's not organic, but I've always been happy with it. Good selection most of the year, but nothing too exotic. Fava beans for a few weeks. They also have relationships with other farms that do meat - chicken, beef, pork - so a few times a summer you can order from those farms and just pick up at HVF.
Have heard great things about Kretschmann, which is organic, has a good variety from what I can tell, and has drop-off points throughout the Pittsburgh area.
Can't speak to CSAs not in the north part of the city, but know there are some that have good reputations. Highly recommend it, though.
Penn's Corner sells to restaurants, so maybe. AFAIK, Kretchsmann only does CSAs so there's nothing else to save the more desirable stuff for. And anyway, the likelihood is that none of these folks have time during the season to be sorting the prettiest stuff for certain people. It's either good and stays or bad and goes, and that's it. The nature of the product and the people who produce it suggests the farmers will err on the side of minimal wastage. I dunno, we never got anything from Kretchmann that was awful. Yeah it's not always *pretty*, but it tastes and lasts fine. (Sometimes it's not something we'll actually use, but they do pretty well if you make up a good "never eat" list.) But CSA is not good for being extra picky, really. Various things might cause the stuff to be less than ideal, but they're not going to throw it out if it's usable.
I have heard of variations on the CSA model where you might actually get to pick your own stuff, but I can't remember if any of the Pittsburgh places do that. For picking out your own items I think the farmers markets are excellent, and there's should be one near just about any area. Cherry Valley may still be doing their a la carte CSA. Pay $50 membership fee, then place an order each week, no minimum, with monthly billing. http://www.cherryvalleyorganics.com/ Not familiar with the subscription, but I have bought stuff from them at the Sewickley farmers market. The herbs always look pretty as well as tasting good.
Thanks for mentioning our "a la carte" subscription service.
For the 2009 season, the membership fee is $65, along with a $200 beginning account balance, which is then debited each time you order off of the weekly menus.
In a nutshell, here's how it works:
No minimum weekly order, no obligation to order each week, no obligation to spend more than the initial $200, running from April through November, with hundreds of varieties of specialty vegetables, herbs, and cut flowers, along with herbal teas and herbal bath & body products.
And, you will never receive "seconds" or bugs or dirty produce - if so, you will receive a full refund for that item, no questions asked.
Thanks again, and please introduce yourself the next time you're at the Sewickley Farmers' Market - we kicked off the market season there this past Saturday!
Jodi & Evan Verbanic
Cherry Valley Organics
Certified Organic Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, & More
This is our second year with Harvest Valley Farms (www.harvestvalleyfarms.com) . Our produce has been nothing short of excellent and has a much longer refrigerator shelf life than any other produce. Art and Kathy King, the owners are awesome. We are moving halfway through the CSA season and they kindly offered to prorate the subscription. We pick up every Thursday and look forward to it all week. Three other couples we are friends with subscribe to Harvest Valley and are again renewing their subscription. I couldn't recommend them more highly. :) We always got a good variety and never felt like we were getting 'seconds'.. We are counting down until we get our first crate:)
I read about Harvest Valley Farms on slowfoodpgh.com, looked pretty interesting, so we were leaning towards there. I'm actually looking forward to getting the variety, we're regular shoppers at the farmers @ the strip spring thru fall but we tend to buy the same items through the same vendors each week. How does the meat contacts work and are the prices competitve with the grocery store?
The process for ordering meat is pretty informal. Art will send out an email to subscribers saying "Farm X has product and if you want to order, here's the list, let me know what you want by this date." Prices depend on the product. A free-range roasting chicken will be significantly more expensive than the grocery store. Beef and pork are marginally more expensive. They also have free-range eggs from a nearby farm in Valencia on occasion, so I always pick up 2 dozen when those are available.