Best Austin CSA?
I'm a member of the Johnson's Backyard Garden CSA (http://www.johnsonsbackyardgarden.com...) and I love it. I got an immediate response when I called the farm (you have to call before noon) and the vegetables are fresh and beautiful. The site even has some storage tips and recipes in case you've never encountered any of the veggies you're given.
Thirding Johnson's. They only break for vacation twice a year and serve up veggies the rest. There are lean times around August when the summer heat is at its worst, but most of the time the boxes are bursting with produce.
They have a great newsletter and the farm does some open houses/potlucks during the year. Great way to meet the people producing your food and get a lay of the land, plus eat lots and lots of yummy dishes. They offer workshares as well if you would like to earn your veggies instead of paying for them.
we have moved over from Tecolate Farm which delivers during the summer to Johnson since they deliver year round. I enjoyed both of them and would have probably stayed with Tecolate if they had a longer deliver cycle. if you are looking for a summer delivery cycle Tecolate is very good.
although i don't really have any experience with the CSAs, i have a lot to say about greenlings.
i did it for a while, but there were a lot of wrinkles and i was just not willing to keep trying.
the local box is a great concept and a decent price point, given the individual prices of the same items.
however, i live in north austin and my delivery date was friday.
that meant we got the dregs of whatever was left...
at first i thought maybe it was just me, but i talked to 5 co-workers who live in the same area and we were a consensus.
my first order, i literally got less than half of the items that were listed for the local box, as most of the more interesting and/or perishable things were gone.
imagine my disappointment when i received a box of potatoes and onions, with just a few green things, compared to the very long list of local box assortment items that were published.
as a consolation, i told myself that at least i could keep all those onions and potatoes for a while.
sadly, they turned moldy after two weeks and got tossed.
it was absolutely impossible to plan any kind of recipes or meals until your box came, and even then, i would get such small amounts of most things that they were more for garnish than an entire entree or side dish.
there were also quite a few problems where things were subbed despite instructions for no subs (which is something they encourage, so you are not disappointed w/ subs), missing things, broken eggs, things that were not fresh/spoiled, and meat that did not match the description (i got something that was described as a cutlet, and it was cube steak. i would never buy meat with holes punched in it!).
also, once i started adding the artisan option, i learned that those items are not very well described.
there are a few things i can't eat for either preference or sensitivity reasons, and a few of the artisan items had them even though the description didn't mention it.
they were slow to fix things the first few times and i got really tired of talking about my concerns and chasing them for credits-- they even forgot to call me back a few times, and were not very good about returning emails.
don't get me wrong-- love the concept, love to support local business, and love the delivery option compared to having to drive to all these farms.
plus, they have a gluten free option, which is great.
as a single person, i need a smaller local box option compared to what they offer.
and as a consumer, i need more consistency and a higher level of service.
they just didn't have their act together enough for me.
one of the greenling people created farmhouse delivery, which is a similar concept, but i don't know enough about it to say more than that.
I was a member of Johnson and now Farmhouse, which I'm very happy with. I find both to be a step up from Greenling but unfortunately the same issues exist that you had dinaofdoom. For example, I receive more of some items that I did with other services but you are still only receiving a few of each. You should shop around as I'm pretty happy with my service.
i think i am kinda burnt out from greenling...
i wish there were smaller assortment options for us single people who want to cook with local produce!
and yes, i know that i could "share" a larger assortment, but i don't have anyone to do so with and it can be a real PITA.
so for now, it's back to the grocery store.
Scott Arbor is the best. They are at the Farmer's Market downtown and are mostly known for their peppers. So you'll get some of those in the Summer. They grow swiss chard, lettuce, carrots, shallots, broccoli. It's all really good. The winter season is starting up so I think you can still get in.
I just started my CSA membership with Steele Farms so I can't give a full review, but they have been great so far. There is a good variety of vegetables, they deliver to my home, and I can customize the vegetable mix. I will say that I thought I would get a larger quantity of vegetables, but this may change from week to week. They do memberships in 10 week blocks.
Update on Steele Farms CSA -- We are now getting tons of veggies. Initially, there was a mix up with our share. We had signed up for an extended share, but were receiving a standard share. Now that everything is straightened out, we are very happy with the amount, quality, and variety of vegetables and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.
We tried a CSA for a year and it was very uneven in terms of volume, variety and quality. For us, it works out better to go to the Angel Valley Farmer's market at the Asian American Cultural Center. They grow great food, and we can choose the items we like. Link:
Our family has been members of both Tecolote Farms and Green Gate Farms. We liked them both. With Tec. they had a North pick up point and a South pickup point. With GG, it looks like they have multiple pick up point in the city, as well as a Farm Stand http://greengatefarms.net/csa/community/
Green Gate is a family run business and are nice people (Tecolote are as well).
IIRC, GG was a little more expensive, but you got a bit more food.