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Calgary & surrounding: where to find organic fresh bulk vegetables / general produce?

Are there cheaper options besides the farmer's market? Have you found any "deals" regarding large quantities of organic veggies/fruits grown nearby?

For example, in some cities in the States you can join CSA groups (Community Supported Agriculture). You pay a monthly subscription and a network of local farms provides organic produce that you buy directly -- it saved me a lot of money. (My last organic box for $25 included baskets of strawberries, tomatoes, kale, carrots, squash, two pounds of potatoes, big bunches of basil, arugula, radishes, and celery, a head of cabbage, some apples and oranges. I'm sure it would cost almost twice that amount at my local COOP...for non-organic items!) Example photo below.

Additionally, there was a huge mango giveaway earlier this summer at either Safeway or Coop. Suggestions along those lines would also be appreciated. Trying not to go to Costco.

Please send me your ideas!

 
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  1. fought, there are CSA's in Alberta, too. Here a few surrounding Calgary--some require man-hours on the farm, others bundle the labour cost into the share.

    http://www.eaglecreekfarms.ca/csa.htm - a friend bought a half-share from Eagle Creek this year; very happy with the produce. I tried the peas and they were wonderful!
    http://thompsonsmallfarm.spaces.live....
    http://www.oxyokefarms.com/csa.html (not sure if this one delivers to Calgary, but it is in the area

    )

    Something different, a meat CSA: http://www.eatfoodforlife.ca/meats_ma...

    6 Replies
    1. re: aktivistin

      Thank you! I wouldn't call them inexpensive, but this is good to know. Taking note to try these CSA farms later.

      Any more cost effective options?

      1. re: aktivistin

        I belong to the Thompson Farm CSA. One thing I want to mention is that you will have to change your expectations for an Alberta CSA. Generally you get a LOT of greens (kale, chard, lettuce), carrots, potatoes, broccoli, kohlrabi, radishes, cauliflower, etc. You won't get fruit (usually of any kind) because it doesn't really grow here or farmers who do grow them (like berries) don't grow veg. Just don't want you to think you're going to get an approximation of what you got in the US.

        As an American, I've found I have to let go of my cost comparisons to the US. EVERYTHING in Calgary is more expensive so it's best if you erase your ideas of what things should cost & then go from there.

        1. re: Merry113

          Not sure how these guys compare price wise....

          http://www.freshorganics.ca/

          I always found that I went to both Planet Organic and Safeway, things were hit and miss price wise. Staying local and within season makes a big difference to the price.

          1. re: cleopatra999

            I tried calling Fresh Organics, and I think they went out of business. Their number is not in service, and their fax is unresponsive.

            Merry -- how much do you pay for Thompson Farm? Do they deliver, or do you drive to pick it up? I can't find any information about their deliveries online.

            Organics Delivered seems like you are paying for the convenience of organic produce arriving at your doorstep. It's a great idea, but less of a great deal. While my main concern is finding something a bit more cost effective, it's always an incentive to be part of a CSA supporting local farms.

            1. re: fought

              I think I paid $300 for half a share (I don't think a full share is double....maybe $450?). I also pay $5 for a dozen free range eggs from their farm. I pick up at the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmer's Market (which is over now but I have at least one more pickup in the parking lot). Thompson Small Farm also uses all animal power (i.e. no tractors).

              Another CSA that I've heard good things about is Eagle Creek Farms. Julie Rosenthal writes about her experience with them here - http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2010/08/20...

          2. re: Merry113

            Alberta has a very short growing season. There is no real fruit industry here because most fruit trees, perennials and shrubs are not winter hardy here. Also our high pH and clay soil make growing things here difficult; thus the higher prices.

            The rise in natural gas prices a few years back devastated the greenhouse industry here; hundreds went under.

        2. I have just finished a 2 box trial with Organics Delivered (www.organicsdelivered.com) and found the price to be good (I think it was $46/box not including refundable box deposit). Boxes were delivered 3 weeks apart and included a great selection of organic fruit and vegetables. I was certainly pleased with the quantity/quality of the produce. (My last box had broccoli, radishes, tomatoes, chard, romaine, potatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers, bananas, pears, kiwis and apples).

          1 Reply
          1. re: beggsy

            Bananas... Yeah... Can't be grown nearby, unless by nearby you mean "on this planet".

          2. It's still a lot of work to source organic food at a good price around Calgary.. I spend a lot of time September buying beets, potatoes, garlic, and squashes in bulk at farmer's markets, and keep them in in a cold room for the winter. (you can often find pesticide free at Crossroads Market, which I think is the best priced, certified organic is much harder to come by..). My solution is to grow greens myself, microgreens indoors and cold weather greens under protection outside. And to pretty much forego tomatoes. As others have said, local eating in the winter here means lots of kale, chard, cabbage, and beets. I've heard that Superstore is trying to bring in more local and organic. But Alberta is oil and ranching country, really.. the trend toward local produce is only beginning to actually have an effect on what's available.

            3 Replies
            1. re: ilovealbertabeets

              how do you grow the cold weather greens? what kind of protection?

              1. re: ilovealbertabeets

                Thanks, albertabeets. Having just moved to Calgary, I'm starting to see that this might be the best option when it comes to availability and organic produce. This will be the first time I've ever tried growing anything for personal consumption, and it's going to be really sad if I kill one of my plants -- which is a reaction I can't say I've ever felt before as a notorious houseplant killer. :(

                Do you find that beets, potatoes, garlic & squashes tend to preserve better in a cold room than a refrigerator or freezer? How long do yours keep? Because it's been a bit difficult to find / expensive to purchase organic produce in Calgary, I'm also looking for different ways to buy in bulk and store. Currently looking at juicing as one option, just to get some good veggie measure in during winter frost.

                Please let me know if you have any favorite nurseries or gardens, as well to recommend.

                1. re: fought

                  The ideal cold storage room should be dark and cool (0 to 5C) but the key is the humidity needs to be high. I find that the refrigerator is always too dry so root veggies don't store as well. Here's a good site http://extension.missouri.edu/publica... that lists the temperatures and humidity for a lot of things, you just have to convert the Fahrenheit to Celsius.

                  Unfortunately in Calgary with our bone dry winters, it's hard to emulate so ideally you have to preserve the summer bounty the old fashioned way with pickling, dehydrating , jamming, etc.

              2. Today's Groupon is for 62% off two 'Organics Delivered' boxes....

                1 Reply
                1. re: beggsy

                  Got mine. I'm interested if only for the variety. Oh, and the delivery.

                  They don't promise local, just organic. (referring to the banana comment above)

                  Also, I grow tomatoes in big pots on the deck then bring them in. I leave the tomatoes on the vine till I am ready for them and have had tomatoes up to Christmas. (in reference to the gardening comment above)

                2. You can try spud, they are pretty reasonably priced and they do deliver to your house on a regular basis

                  http://www.spud.ca/about/whatsnew.cfm...

                  Community Natural Foods has organic fruit/veggie and the prices vary. There is also crossroads market but again the prices vary