HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
What are you cooking today? Get great advice
TELL US

Chestnut Farms Meat CSA - winter shares

PinchOfSalt Oct 20, 2010 05:40 AM

I noticed that my meat CSA has some shares available for its winter season. Shares typically include chicken, beef, pork, and lamb. You can ask for no pork or no lamb. In my experience Kim (who runs the front end for Chestnut Farms) is very flexible and accommodating. The farm is not certified organic but it follows traditional small-scale farming operations that are kind and gentle to the animals (which are pasteured with plenty of room to roam) and the land. Pick ups are monthly at various locations around the greater Boston area as well as central MA. Share sizes start at 10 pounds/month. When you pick up your shares you usually often have the option to purchase eggs from the farm and additional goodies, such as goat (also raised at the farm), offal (at incredibly low prices), and the like. Summer season shareholders can also purchase turkeys raised at the farm.

Interested Hounds can visit this web page to learn more.

http://www.chestnutfarms.org/

(I have no interest in Chestnut Farms other than as a happy customer.)

  1. Small Plates Oct 20, 2010 09:26 AM

    Add me to list of happy customers. We've been with Chestnut for 2-3 years now, and are sooooooo happy with our 10-lb. share. The farm is beautiful and the animals really do enjoy a peaceful existence. Kim sends monthly updates about the animal family and invites us once a year to visit. The meat is delicious. The hamburgers are quite possibly the best burgers I have ever had! Two thumbs up for Chestnut Farms!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Small Plates
      f
      FoodDabbler Oct 20, 2010 11:09 AM

      Their website makes a point of stressing the leanness of their meat (95% lean for their hamburger). Does that not yield dry results, however careful you are?

      1. re: FoodDabbler
        PinchOfSalt Oct 20, 2010 11:42 AM

        Yes the meat is very lean. The hamburgers, however, are as delicious as Small Plates says. The trick is to cook them very quickly. They are thin enough that that works (as long as a medium-done burger is sufficiently cooked for your taste). The steaks and chops are also cut thin enough to accommodate quick cooking.

        If you are at all curious, you can try before you commit to buying a share if you can make it out to the Lexington or Arlington Farmers' markets before they end operation this month for the season. Chestnut Farms sells individual packages there (and at other locations that are no doubt listed on their website).

        1. re: PinchOfSalt
          s
          stomachofsteel Oct 20, 2010 02:42 PM

          Also a very happy customer -- we've had a 15-lb share for about a year and love it. The leanness is not a problem as long as you're careful not to overcook. I'm fortunate enough to be married to a former chef who is pretty spot-on with cooking time, and we've never had a problem. The winter shares also tend to have a lot of braising cuts, which are hard to mess up.

          We have a meat grinder attachment for our stand mixer, and on a few occasions we have also ground up fattier cuts to mix with the lean ground beef. This has worked well.

          Their chicken has spoiled me for life.

    2. s
      smtucker Oct 20, 2010 10:46 AM

      There are no prices on the web site that I can find. Could you give me an idea of the cost of a 10lb share?

      5 Replies
      1. re: smtucker
        PinchOfSalt Oct 20, 2010 11:46 AM

        A ten-pound share is $80 a month. You pay each time you do a pick-up. (This is great for people whose cash-flow cannot support paying up-front for the entire season.) Larger shares cost less per pound. Complete pricing info can be found here:

        http://www.chestnutfarms.org/index.ph...

        1. re: PinchOfSalt
          f
          FoodDabbler Oct 20, 2010 03:03 PM

          Thanks. I'm exposing my inner pedantic-nerd, but their price for the 15lb share is $7.67/lb not $7.75 as they say. Not a big deal (or a deal of any size), but it struck me as I glanced at the list.

          Sounds like a great scheme overall.

          1. re: FoodDabbler
            s
            stomachofsteel Oct 20, 2010 04:04 PM

            While I've been very happy with their meat and they are extremely nice, they can be a bit...flaky on the admin end of things.

            1. re: stomachofsteel
              Small Plates Oct 21, 2010 10:43 AM

              Totally agree - but not in a way that has ever impacted us materially. Upside is that I feel OK when *I* flake and forget my cooler on the odd occasion! ;-P

        2. re: smtucker
          Small Plates Oct 20, 2010 12:41 PM

          $80 for a 10lb share. This month my share consisted of, IIRC: chicken breast, 2 chicken legs/thigs, 1 lb beef hot dogs, 2 pork loin chops, ground beef, ground pork, breakfast sausage, chuck and a sirloin steak. Other cuts from other months have included pork loin pieces for kebabs, lamb shoulder chops, bacon, ham steak, tri tip, lamb sausage, pork sausage with Italian seasoning, and others I may well be forgetting. All fantastic!

        3. f
          FoodDabbler Oct 20, 2010 02:54 PM

          Is there a calendar of drop off/pickup dates, and exact locations (not just towns)?

          2 Replies
          1. re: FoodDabbler
            PinchOfSalt Oct 20, 2010 06:50 PM

            If you look at the calendar with all the pick-ups, you can click on any location name (e.g. "Arlington") and see a pop-up with the exact location. Here is the pick-up calendar page:

            http://www.chestnutfarms.org/index.ph...

            1. re: PinchOfSalt
              f
              FoodDabbler Oct 20, 2010 07:27 PM

              Thanks. Their website isn't the easiest to navigate, but with your help I now begin to see how to do it.

              Unfortunately, I travel a bit and the days I'm in town don't appear to match the days when they have pickups at convenient locations.

          2. Allstonian Oct 20, 2010 03:50 PM

            For the record, when I tried to visit the Chestnut Farms website on the computer system at work, the in-house firewalls wouldn't even let me go there. I just tried to look them up on Google and my McAfee security software flagged every part of their website as infected with malware and/or viruses.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Allstonian
              g
              gimlis1mum Oct 20, 2010 07:33 PM

              Their website did get hacked a few months ago...I remember that we got an email saying shortly after they'd switched to a new ISP, the ISP's server was hacked and they had to shut down everything for a while. So it's possible that that info is still floating around the 'sphere (my uninformed, non-IT-type user language).

              We've been with them for ~18 months. I also recall that I didn't hear anything for a while after sending in my request, but I emailed to follow-up and Kim responded pretty quickly.

            2. MrsCheese Oct 20, 2010 04:12 PM

              This is so weird because I've tried to sign up through their website and never get any response.

              6 Replies
              1. re: MrsCheese
                s
                stomachofsteel Oct 20, 2010 05:17 PM

                I would say that communication and web stuff is not really their strong point (fortunately, raising animals is). When we signed up through their website, we also did not hear anything, until one day (months later) we got an email saying we could pick up our meat share the following Sunday. I do wish they were a bit better with communicating things like this, but everything works out fine in the end, so it doesn't bother me much.

                1. re: stomachofsteel
                  f
                  FoodDabbler Oct 20, 2010 05:56 PM

                  If they want to sell meat, not just raise it, they presumably have to communicate to some extent.

                  1. re: stomachofsteel
                    MrsCheese Oct 20, 2010 06:12 PM

                    I'm kind of irritated about it, because there's no other contact info on the website.

                    1. re: MrsCheese
                      PinchOfSalt Oct 20, 2010 06:43 PM

                      Earlier this year they changed from having a contact email address to having a page on their website for getting in touch with them.

                      http://www.chestnutfarms.org/index.ph...

                      If memory serves they mentioned in a newsletter that this was done to improve communication and administration. They still do have an email address; however my personal experience is that unless it is an emergency of some kind, don't expect to get an email response. Of course either I or my share-partner sees Kim once a month, so any back-logged communication gets taken care of then.

                      For what it's worth, I heard nothing after signing up too. A new season approached and still I heard nothing. Finally, nearly a year after signing up with another new season about to begin I contacted Kim to ask where I was on the list. She was very apologetic and told me I would be in the upcoming season. So, if you have waited a long time and heard nothing, do go ahead and ask them about your status. (I originally got Kim's email from another hound who saw me mention something about waiting a long time.

                      )

                      The meat and poultry are excellent, the farm is run in a way that leaves me with a clear conscience about eating its products, and the price is very fair considering what you get and comparing it to regular supermarkets and/or WF. If communication is a bit irregular, I can live with that.

                      1. re: PinchOfSalt
                        s
                        stomachofsteel Oct 21, 2010 05:23 AM

                        Pinch, I completely agree with your last paragraph. Also, as you mention we see Kim at every pick-up -- and she is very approachable and well aware of her administrative shortcomings -- so if there's ever a problem, we just go to her then and it is easily taken care of.

                        FoodDabbler, while you're correct that they need to communicate to sell meat, and while I agree, MrsCheese, that it can be kind of frustrating, the crowd at pick-up seems to indicate to me that they are making it work. I think most of their customers feel that the opportunity to buy fairly-priced, humanely-raised, delicious meat from exceedingly nice people who care about what they do is well worth a little, as Pinch puts it, irregularity.

                  2. re: MrsCheese
                    Small Plates Oct 21, 2010 10:46 AM

                    Here - use this email... chestnutfarms@comcast.net

                  Show Hidden Posts