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Aug 20, 2010 05:21 AM

Cleveland area CSA

Ok I'm done. After never having time to get to the farmer's market and always running out to the grocery to get produce, I'm ready to join a CSA.

I would STRONGLY prefer one that drops off, but we can only accept on Saturdays since we live in an apartment so I'm not sure if that will fit with any of them. If we were to pick up, it would have to be somewhere within the county. I really can't devote 2 hours every weekend to driving somewhere to pick up a share (this is part of why I haven't joined one so far). Anyone have any recommendations?

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  1. You may get some local suggestions, but if not, try looking at:

    You put in your zipcode, and it will bring up CSAs in your area. You then click on the individual CSA links, and they tell you about their policies (where/when to pick up, etc.)

    I think you have to join early in the year, though, as they are becoming more popular, and shares may sell out by springtime.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Niki in Dayton

      Thanks, I'm planning ahead for next year or later this year when they start taking reservations.
      I know some of them sell out way ahead of time so I want to research now which one to join.

    2. Fresh Fork has several pickup locations. They're not a traditional CSA. They aggregate products from local producers. I don't have any specific information, but my impression is that they have fairly high standards for the quality of their products. Besides offering several pickup locations, they also let you add products a la carte from their website. In fact, you can order from them without being a CSA member.

      6 Replies
      1. re: stuart

        hmm. I looked into it, but they don't seem to offer a just-produce option, which is what I'm looking for. Thx though.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          They do have a vegan option. You won't get in this year though.

          1. re: Hubajube

            No, I'm looking to join for next year. A lot of them seem to start taking reservations in the fall for the following year so I wanted to start doing some research now. I found one I really liked per the other link that was posted so I may go that way, I emailed them an inquiry. Thanks everyone!

            1. re: rockandroller1

              We belong to FreshFork this summer, and while the jury is still out, there's a 90% chance we won't join again next year.

              There are pros and cons. We enjoyed the thrill of getting a big bag of groceries every week, but we were locked in to that time period every week, which happens to be early Friday night. We had to plan and schedule around it, which was sometimes a pain. We also couldn't eat all of the food from the bag every week... too much for two people, even the small bag.

              We also happen to love going to the Farmer's Market, and with such a big bag of food picked up the night before, we found that we didn't need to buy much and we love to buy from the FMs. We'd rather hand-pick our own groceries, also, rather than "get stuck" with items we don't want/don't like. For a while, I really enjoyed being "surprised" with food I wouldn't have thought to buy and looked forward to receiving the email detailing the food list for the week. I think I'm over that now. It's kind of like buying a "grab bag".... kinda fun, sometimes disappointing.

              There are many things to consider. Do you like to take lots of vacation time in the summer? Then pick a CSA that is willing to let you take vacation time without any penalty of losing weeks & $$$ (FreshFork is VERY good about this - they allow up to 4 wks of vacation... you can "make it up" later). Are you OK w/ being locked into a timeslot during the week when you can't plan for anything else but to go pick up your bag and then take it home (because of the perishables & having to wash the produce)? We wouldn't have known any of this unless we gave it a try. Now that we do, we absolutely love the idea. It's just not for us, however.

              1. re: janbo19


                We don't take vacations so that's not really a concern. The one I'm looking up has pickup in the same city my Mom lives in so if for some reason we couldn't make it, she could always pick up for us and hold onto it til we could get it from her.

                Having a now-toddler in daycare, I'm used to being "locked in" to a time slot to be a specific place at a specific time on different days (little RNR splits his time between daycare and my Mom's, so I'm on a good drop-off/pick-up routine and have things timed out well). If ever I can't pick up, mr. RNR could pick up. If we both couldn't, my Mom could.

                I do worry about the "grab bag" aspect of it; you have to use what you have and not go shopping elsewhere or else you're wasting $. As much as I love my farmer's market and produce stands, I find I almost never have the time to go to them anymore (life with 2 adults working FT plus a toddler). I think we've been twice this whole year.

                1. re: rockandroller1

                  Sounds like a CSA would be just right for you, then! I like what Randy said just below. You will definitely eat well.

      2. I have really enjoyed FreshFork this summer. I really like their flexibility -- I have made special arrangements to pick up at a different location when I needed to for scheduling reasons. I did the "full access" plan, which gave me a small bag (really huge for 2 people, but we've generally figured out how to use most, if not all, of it) PLUS the ability to order $30/week from their website, and carry over any unused portion of that credit, some of which I plan to apply to buying a turkey or two for the holidays. All in all, being a member of FreshFork has improved our eating by 100% (including that we now drink nothing but organic milk).

        1. Although your question has been answered, for the benefit of anyone who found this thread when looking for info on Cleveland CSAs, I have to chime in with praise for Fresh Fork Market. The variety and value is terrific-- you can go to their website and download the weekly newsletters to see the list of what was included this year for the small bags, the family-size bags, and the vegetarian/vegan bag (link below). The newsletters themselves are something else I love about FFM-- nice to have some ideas for what to do with food I don't normally buy. And one other thing-- because FFM draws from so many sources for its food, the bags are often "curated" with ingredients that go well together-- for example, "pizza week" with pizza dough, mozzarella, tomatoes, sausage for the meat-eaters, etc.; and burgers/veggie burgers + buns and fixings for Fourth of July weekend. This helped a lot with eating all of the food. For two of us, it was sometimes a challenge, but I think anyone perusing CHOW can probably handle it.

          1. RNR,

            There is not a ton of Meat products that come in the small package, moreso veggies and eggs milk and cheeses. One incredibly nice thing is their pick up options, and that they have one in MH at Big Creek. While you may not think that you will have a problem picking up each weekend it is a long season, from Memorial day to Oct. 23rd, so one week here or there is feasible. And having the option to accumulate credits and use them at their "online market" is nice.

            Also check out the Package Newsletters that are in the above link, they are helpful in giving an idea of what you can expect.