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CSA recommendation and questions

l
luckytomato Mar 4, 2010 11:12 AM

I am a single person living alone but am interested in signing up for a CSA, I was wondering if anyone had recommendations as to a good CSA to sign up with. Right now, I am deciding between Two Small Farms and Eatwell Farm. Two Small Farms is cheaper, but Eatwell gives you the option of picking up every other week instead of every week. Since I will be mainly cooking for myself, would a box of produce from either of these CSAs be too much for me to eat in a week? How much food is included per box?

Thanks!
Wendy

  1. j
    jsaimd Mar 4, 2010 11:29 AM

    I have done two small farms for 7 years. Love them! The produce is fantastic and generally good variety. I eat tons of veggies so I can go through a box, but most normal people will need to share a box. If you look on their website they have an archive for "What's in This weeks box." In general salad mix is a produce bag very full, cooking greens is one largish bunch, tomatoes - a paper lunch bag full, lettuce - 1 large or 2 small heads. That might give you an idea of the quantity.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jsaimd
      l
      luckytomato Mar 4, 2010 11:37 AM

      Thanks for the tip. They sound great. I might be encouraged to eat a lot more veggies, especially knowing that they are grown in a more responsible way than conventional agriculture.

      1. re: luckytomato
        j
        jlfoodie Mar 4, 2010 01:17 PM

        My husband and I do Eatwell Farms and haven't been disappointed. It's a great farm to support and i LOVE their summer fruits. We actually do every other week and we still have leftover, but I'm not going to lie we also like to eat out a lot. We love our eggs as well from Eatwell. I'd recommend it - and since it's just you I'd say every other week as well. Eatwell also has "this weeks' box" on their website....

        1. re: jlfoodie
          s
          soft tofu Mar 4, 2010 10:04 PM

          I also subscribe to Eatwell Farms and love it. I eat a lot of veggies so a delivery every other week and half a dozen eggs are more than enough for one person. If you love fruit like I do though, you might have to supplement with a little more shopping. Eatwell also has a trial offer.

    2. s
      sfbing Mar 4, 2010 01:36 PM

      I used to be an Eatwell subscriber, but switched because there was too much spoilage in my basket and I felt that they seemed to be saving the good stuff for the farmers market. I used to split a Two Small Farms basket with a friend. TSF is always very fresh and the vegetables were very user friendly (lots of salad greens and strawberries), which was actually a drawback for me. Right now, I'm going solo with Mariquita's Mystery Thursday basket, mainly for the variety of unusual vegetables. You have to pick up, which could be a dealbreaker though.

      I highly recommend doing a four week trial if available.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sfbing
        l
        luckytomato Mar 4, 2010 01:44 PM

        How does the Mariquita Mystery Thursday basket work? I will probably try the Two Small Farms CSA first with the 4 week trial to see if it's not too much. I'm hoping they'll have mystery vegetables as I am always looking to expand my cooking repertoire. I'd like to try the Eatwell Farms program at some time too, since I've been curious to try pastured eggs for some time.

        1. re: luckytomato
          s
          sfbing Mar 4, 2010 02:16 PM

          Check out this link:
          http://www.mariquita.com/Farmers%20Ma...
          It also has pdfs of what is in past baskets.

          Basically, you email Julia with your contact info and what date you want a basket for. She emails you back to confirm. Then you pay with cash and pick up at the restaurant between 4.30 and 7pm on that Thursday. (Tip: Do not forget! My understanding is that if you forget, you get shuffled to the bottom of the list for future baskets.)

          1. re: sfbing
            Windy Mar 4, 2010 08:30 PM

            I share a TSF subscription which I love and get mystery boxes in the off season. The mystery boxes have a long waiting list. The regular CSA has more normal items like lettuce, but the mystery boxes always have at least one thing you've never seen before.

            Try out Two Small Farms for the trial and if it's too much, find someone to share alternating weeks with. Even if I don't finish everything, I eat far more vegetables, and the price is outrageously low for the quality and freshness.

      2. p
        Pandora Mar 7, 2010 03:57 PM

        I've been doing Two Small Farms for about four years. One year when on hiatus from TSF, we did sign up for a trial wtih Eatwell. We didn't think their produce lasted as long and their boxes weren't as large for the same price. We went back to TSF. To be fair, it was the off season, so maybe the Eatwell box gets better later in Spring/Summer.

        1. m
          mkreese Mar 9, 2010 02:34 PM

          I have been using Eating With The Seasons for three years now and LOVE them. They are a family-run CSA started by two sisters who grew up on their father's farm. They offer organic produce and other local offerings such as grassfed meats, honey, olive oil, herbs, etc. Each week I get an email with a list of available produce and products and get to "shop" from the list to fill my own bag and plan weekly menus (no more "mystery boxes"!). They deliver to various drop-off points in the Bay Area. Check out their website here: http://www.eatwiththeseasons.com.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mkreese
            s
            stacyc Mar 13, 2010 08:59 AM

            I tried Eating with the Seasons and thought it was no better than shopping at Safeway. Especially compared to Two Small Farms. Two Small Farms delivfers impeccable produce - amazingly fresh, generous in quantity and the families who manage it are nicer than any of the people with whom I interacted at EWTS. I also get a share from Full Circle Farms in Sunnyvale. Their produce is also amazing, but the quantities are really small for the money, so the value isn't as apparent. The other issue with them is that they don't deliver, so if you don't live nearby, it's a haul to get there -- and they only allow pick-up during the evening rush hours (4-7).

          2. 5
            5akman Mar 12, 2010 06:06 PM

            Check out Chaffin Orchards out of Oroville. They make a couple CSA deliveries a year into the bay area. They typically have citrus, olive oil, jams, grass fed beef, pastured poultry etc.

            http://www.chaffinfamilyorchards.com/

            1. l
              luckytomato Mar 15, 2010 10:21 AM

              Thanks everyone for your recommendations. I have signed up for a 4 week trial with Two Small Farms. The first pickup is this Wednesday. I will reply back with my impression of the produce.

              1. Windy Mar 13, 2011 06:01 PM

                Just wanted to add Namu's modest "CSA" to this list, an especially good choice for someone single or interested in trying out a subscription.

                Chef Dennis Lee has been having fun sharing his market shopping. There's a small ($15) and a large box ($25). You preorder by Friday pm and pickup during brunch at Namu Sundays (11-3). No commitment required.

                They're not a farm--this is gathered from the various farms the restaurant buys from. And it's all piled in a crate, not packaged up. But there's a genuine feeling of community and warmth, spreading a love of good food and cooking. This week all profits were donated to Japanese earthquake relief.

                The small box was very small, a few of the portions almost comical (5 Jerusalem artichokes, two tiny heads of little gems, orange), like your mom packed groceries or dinner supplies for you. But you get to try 8 or 9 things, and it's at least a couple of fresh meals.

                The big box is still much smaller than Mariquita's, my regular mystery destination, and the recipes don't arrive until the day after, when Dennis has time to write them. Notably it feels like a chef's selection rather than a farmers; two servings of asparagus, two or three portions of mushrooms, rather than 5 pounds of potatoes or collards. Less overwhelming if you're not already a CSA addict.

                They always include something homemade: one week loco moco gravy, this week Namu's rich mac and cheese with kim chee. They also have various proteins for sale. I bought a container of marinated pork belly and stir fried it with that week's mustard greens. Recommended.

                More info here:
                http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                -----
                Namu
                439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

                1. b
                  boris_qd Jun 2, 2011 08:54 AM

                  What CSA options have the most vegetables (in both total variety and volume). Unlike many of the posters here I've always had a problem with not getting enough vegetables (maybe I cook more at home?). I need at least one vegetable per day (somedays two). That means _at _least_ seven vegetable (not counting potatoes or other high startch item). Looking at Marquita I see that they provide around 5 vegetables per week (and that counts things like radishes).

                  Also, the mystery box thing is confusing to me. Is all the interesting stuff going into this "mystery" box leaving just boring stuff for the regular CSA pickup? Why is there a waiting list - is the mystery box the only CSA that providing interesting vegetables? Looking at the pdf's of past mystery boxes they just look like what I would expect in a local CSA box - a nice selection of fruits and vegetables some not the regular supermarket varieties. Aren't all CSA boxes a bit of a suprise? What am i missing?

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: boris_qd
                    w
                    wally Jun 2, 2011 09:20 AM

                    I have been getting the Mariquita mystery box for about 6 months. I wasn't aware that there was a waiting list. It seems to be the same as their CSA box (that doesn't go all year) with a few extras. Winter doesn't always have a lot of interesting stuff. Cardoons were a stretch for me. I love Spigariello but I think that goes in their CSA box also. . A rutabaga is a rutabaga. Kohlrabi is interesting. The amount of fava beans (3 lbs one time and 4 lbs another) were the amount I consider my limit to process. Evertything is extremely fresh, nothing tired. I could use more greens and less volume of roots, but that is our particular bias.

                    1. re: boris_qd
                      Robert Lauriston Jun 2, 2011 09:21 AM

                      Full Belly usually has seven items a week.

                      Mariquita wasn't doing a CSA for a while, hence the mystery box.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        s
                        sfbing Jun 2, 2011 10:00 AM

                        Mariquita used to share a CSA with another farm called Two Small Farms, but this year they agreed to split their territory amicably and they are each running a CSA. As for the difference between the mystery box and the CSA, Julia from Mariquita told me that they deliberately put in more commonly used (aka as boring) veggies in the CSA box such as strawberries, spring mix, corn, etc. This is primarily b/c most of the people who subscribe to the CSA are families with small children and Mariquita got a lot of "my kid won't eat this" complaints from CSA members when they would put things like radicchio and puntarelle. There is a waiting list for some sites for the CSA.

                        For the mystery box, you take what Andy gives you without complaint. But there isn't a long term commitment, either. So you can choose to take a break when the season doesn't suit your fancy.

                        1. re: sfbing
                          Windy Jun 2, 2011 11:35 AM

                          Actually I think the split between the Mariquita mystery box and the regular CSA is quantity. They try to include the same thing for all CSA members and vary them every week.

                          Mystery boxes are a much smaller number, so you get whatever random things they're growing, and a few more of them.

                          I've gotten both from Mariquita and would highly recommend either, especially for a vegetables lover (the CSA boxes are all vegetables except for strawberry season). You can do a 4-week trial on the regular CSA for $99.

                          The mystery boxes have been very popular (thanks to a lot of writeups) hence the waiting list. There is room in the CSA, but a few locations are full--because the hosts don't have space, not because the farm doesn't have vegetables.

                          1. re: Windy
                            p
                            Pandora Jun 2, 2011 10:39 PM

                            Agree - when I've gotten the mystery box it's been a huge amount of veggies, definitely larger than the regular CSA. I do recommend the CSA. We've subscribed for the last few years and found that it had more veggies and better quality than some of the other CSAs we tried.

                        2. re: Robert Lauriston
                          b
                          boris_qd Jun 2, 2011 10:13 AM

                          Full Belly looks great but.... they do the whole Bay Area _except_ San Francisco. :(

                          1. re: boris_qd
                            Robert Lauriston Jun 2, 2011 10:21 AM

                            Eatwell and Mariquita have SF pickup locations. If you eat more vegetables than come in your CSA box, just buy some more, you're still saving money over the farmers market. Sometimes I pick up our box on Friday and cook it all that night.

                            http://www.mariquita.com/csa/csapickupsites.html
                            http://eatwell.com/for-members/homepage/

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              r
                              riki68 Jun 2, 2011 10:36 AM

                              You could also try Organic Now. They're new, and deliver to SF and the east bay. To your house!

                              1. re: riki68
                                Robert Lauriston Jun 2, 2011 10:45 AM

                                Wow, prices sure vary. If you pay more or less quarterly, Full Belly is $16.50 a week, Mariquita's $20, Organic Now / Valley End is $25 with delivery, Eatwell's $25 without.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                  Windy Jun 2, 2011 11:36 AM

                                  Mariquita is $22 per week for the CSA, $25 for a mystery box.

                                  And Namu's "CSA" is 15 for a small order and $25 for a big box, pick up, with treats cooked by the restaurant.

                                  -----
                                  Namu
                                  439 Balboa Street, San Francisco, CA 94118

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