Thoughts on KEG?
So, I've been reading about the Kawartha Ecological Growers, and I'm really intrigued, but I'm not sure I'm willing to take the plunge with having a contract to buy that much produce, and I'd really appreciate some feedback from current customers.
If there are any KEG members here, I'd love to hear what you think of it - is the produce good? Good value for money? Good variety? Consistent quality?
My fiancee and I have also signed up for a second season with KEG, which is testament to our positive experiences with the CSA.
Since you've been reading about them, you'll probably already know that your weekly share consists of a fixed box of goods and then some extras (the relative value of each depends on the share size you sign up for). They're very accomodating so that if, say, you're not a big fan of fiddleheads, you can usually swap them for another item of roughly equivalent value. In addition to other types of produce, they also sell prepared foods like jams and jellies, pasta, maple syrup, and frozen meat (there's talk of them potentially starting up a meat share, which would allow them to bring in fresh meats). They offer a wide selection of different cuts (grassfed beef, pork, lamb, occasionally goat) as well as various heritage chickens, and often there will be sausage too (don't pass up the chance to get the "naked pig" sausage, prepared by Scott Vivian of Wine Bar - I swear there's cocaine or something in it).
The quality of the food is excellent and very fresh, although like haggisdragon mentioned, the growing season last year was far from ideal, and some crops were affected more than others. The folks who run KEG (Mark and Shannon) are super friendly and very knowledgeable about what they're selling, and Mark takes special orders for meat cuts (e.g. about a year ago we asked him for a pig's head and some trotters, which he was only too happy to oblige). It certainly is a bit of a lifestyle adjustment - having to come up with new recipes using whatever ingredients you get in your box keeps you on your toes. We also eat substantially more veggies than we used to, and that can't be a bad thing.
Hey, I've been a KEG customer for one season and I've signed on again for this season.
Last season, we got a great variety of produce, always super fresh. As far as quality goes. last year was a very challenging growing season (way too much rain) so certain things, especially tomatoes, were pretty scarce, and not close to the ideal tomato. Hopefully this season will get some more sunny days.
As far as value for money, I'd say the prices are comparable to organic prices at your local market. The difference is obviously your getting guaranteed local and its very often been picked the day before you pick it up!
I really enjoy cooking with some of the heirloom varieties of potatoes, beets, carrots etc. that they grow, aswell as some of the more exotic things that you get sometimes like zucchini flowers (yum).
We always buy eggs (true free range) and some meat when we do our pickup.
In short, I'm a fan. It is an investment,(and also a bit of a lifestyle commitment: You have to make the time to cook everything while its fresh) and one well worth making IMO. It makes me feel good to be part of this community.
I recently took the plunge and signed on for a summer share. That starts up in early June, so unfortunately there's not a whole lot I can add at this time.
I'd be interested in hearing what any current KEG CSA participants have to say, even though I'm already signed on and committed for the next 6 months :)