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Mar 1, 2010 07:32 AM

CSA 2010

deciding between Allandale Farm, The Food Project or The Farm School. Does anyone have any experience with any of these?

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  1. There's another thread about 2010 CSA choices here:

    1. This will be my second year doing the Allandale farm csa, I really enjoyed it and have found the produce to be real high quality and you get a real good amount and variety. The only downside is you have to pick it up at Allandale.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Karl

        seems like you can't go wrong. Food project nor Allandale seems to offer corn, which stinks.

        1. re: Karl

          Allandale uses corn from Verrill Farms. We had corn in our CSA box and they sell it at the farm stand. You get 10% off there on your pickup day.

          Some of the produce at local CSA's is traded. Allandale trades with Verrill, as noted, and it goes both ways. Allandale also brings in pumpkins - which you get as an addition to your share - in a trade with another farm. This is common.

          Stuff that you get at Russo's comes from these same sources. You can see the trucks at Allandale. What's really weird is running across this stuff at Haymarket when it gets remaindered. A main goal for the farms is to shift some of the production from wholesale to CSA because they get more from that.

          I was very happy with the Allandale CSA even with the difficult growing season last year. Remember that rain?

          1. re: lergnom

            Interesting. I live right down the street from Russo's as is, but work near Allandale. I did a CSA two years ago and enjoyed it, and am glad I didn't do it last year. Here's hoping this season is more worthwhile.

            1. re: rchudy

              So, I realize that this is going to sound like I'm way up on my high horse, but I have to respond to something in your post, rchudy. At the risk of seeming presumptuous, the fact that you're "glad I didn't do it last year" and "hoping this season is more worthwhile" makes me think that either you don't totally understand or you don't buy into it. As someone who is deeply investing in local ag, I'm going to pull up my soapbox and talk CSAs for a minute. (And if you already know all this and I'm preaching to the choir, then hopefully it will serve as a learning moment for someone else.)

              I think it's important to understand, and buy into, the notion that CSA shares are about sharing the bounty of good seasons, spreading the risk of difficult ones, and building a supportive community of folks that want to ensure that small, local farms exist in perpetuity. That means that ideally, when one goes through a season like 2009, one should be pleased and proud to sustain a small farm during a season when crop losses were over 30%. Obviously you weren't trying to "dodge the bullet"--even if you wanted to there's no way to know how a season will go in advance--but before you get into another CSA, please be aware of the fact that it's not a subscription, it's a shared venture. At the risk of using an overly dramatic example, if a farm were to have a total crop loss, its members don't get a refund (one farm did that last year and I think it was a big mistake, as it sets a terrible precedent.)

              Of course, I don't mean to sound all doom and gloom -- most seasons I find my CSA share to be bountiful beyond belief, and an amazing deal. When it's a crazy bumper crop, everyone benefits and tries to figure out how to eat or preserve the food before it spoils! I hope this doesn't seem pedantic--I see the explosion of interest in CSA shares as a really amazing thing, I just want to make sure every understands how they work, because it's important for everyone to be on the same page going into a partnership!

              1. re: celeriac

                I'm not sure that supporting a small farm is my goal, while supporting farms generally is. One benefit of Allandale and other larger farms is that they can make up for crop issues. Many of the beds at Allandale were literally under water early in the season, though some of the crops were fine but we never saw a drop off.

                1. re: celeriac

                  Standing and applauding Celeriac!

                  And, a round of applause for all the Hounds who support farms via CSAs. Here's to a season of abundance for all of you and the farmers you sustain. And, if things go wrong, thank you for helping insure that the farms will be there to try again the following season.

                  My CSA will be with Atlas Farms again. I was very pleased last season.


                  1. re: celeriac

                    Geez. I'm fully aware of the benefits of a CSA, as stated I participated in a share two years ago and loved it, receiving more produce than I could possibly ask for. You're right, there was no way I could have predicted the amount of rain and crop damage we received last year, but in any event, yes, I am glad I didn't sign up last year, I hope that makes sense.

                    1. re: rchudy

                      Rchudy - I know this seems like a pointed attack against you, and I'm sorry for that. I'm trying hard to keep it from seeming that way. It's more a concern about the way many people approach CSAs. For me, while I was unhappy that I didn't get any tomatoes this year, I don't regret my CSA share for a moment. I know that if the farm had to sell their produce at farmers' markets, they would have gone deeply into debt. Instead, because the CSA model, the financial hit was minimal and the farmers still make a living, which they deserve no matter what the weather is like. Im not criticizing you, I'm just trying to introduce another approach to how we think about what makes a CSA worthwhile.

                      lergnom - in the scale of modern agriculture, a farm like Allandale is pretty darn small. When I say "small farm," I'm comparing to giant agribusiness.

                      1. re: celeriac

                        To take a slightly contrarian view, after 8 years of whole and half-shares from Stillman's, we chose not to do a CSA share with them in 2009 because we felt that with the economy as broken as it was last year, we could do more good last summer by spreading our cash around. By not getting a half-share from Stillman's, we shopped at a wider variety of farmers markets -- Brookline, Allston, Mission Hill, Copley and Waltham -- and bought fruits and veggies from a wider variety of farms. Stillman's still ended up getting most of our cash -- after this many years, we consider Kate, Aidan and Glenn friends, not just providers -- and if anything, we ended up spending more money at the markets than we would have paid for a half-share, but we felt it was important that other farms get some too.

                        1. re: celeriac

                          thank you for that. I agree though, some people sign up for CSA's because it's become a somewhat trendy and hip thing, without realizing any of the pros/cons/and/or consequences.

                      2. re: celeriac

                        I love that there is discussion here, regardless of approach!

                        I appreciate celeriac for taking the time to point out that part of the point of CSA's is for the community to support agriculture through the ups and downs of weather and economy. Its an investment in the preservation of local, seasonal farming, even when the payoff is not guaranteed year-to-year.

                        I also appreciate the perspective that not committing to one single CSA gives a consumer freedom to share their dollars widely throughout the community and sometimes more abundantly than with a CSA committment.

                        CSA is probably a little more inclined to supporting the farmer, and farmer's markets are probably a little more inclined to providing for consumers. Either way, its local, seasonal, more nutritious and delicious. I cannot wait for the 2010 season!!!!!

                          1. re: rchudy

                            I agree. Can't wait for the season to begin. And even though I have a share (this year from Stillman's because of pick up in Quincy), I'll still be topping up at other farm stands for those things that I can never get enough of . . .

                            In spite of a poor economy, we've got to do our little bit to support local producers over imports. What do we do if our local farms disappear? Can't depend on "the big boys" or fickle, perhaps dangerous, imports, for wholesome, nutritious, non-tainted food.

                            Whoops! There goes the soap box again. ;-)

                            1. re: keencook1

                              I have that disease too. Soapboxinosis. Its chronic. :P

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