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CSA advice?

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Hi. I'm thinking of joining a CSA this year and am looking for info on personal experiences with the various local farms. The list from the Land Stewardship Directory is a bit overwheming to go through, farm by farm. Ideally would have half-shares and deliver to St Paul. There are a few people in my condo building who may be interested in joining - direct delivery would be a huge plus. Thanks!

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  1. I've been a member of Harmony Valley for several years now. We have liked their share, though it's a lot of food. My husband and I get an every other week box, and that is sometimes too much to use up. One of the things I like about Harmony Valley is their diversity of shares: you can get veggies, fruit, cheese, coffee and meat through them.
    I'm not sure if they have a Saint Paul delivery site, but if they don't, they may consider adding a drop site in your building if there are several people willing to join up.

    1 Reply
    1. re: forgottendreamr

      Harmony Valley odoes indeed have Saint Paul delivery locations.

      We like them because they allow you to pick your delivery dates (as long as you have at least 14 total) and pay monthly rather than in one big chunk.

      They still had openings available when last I checked. It wouldn't hurt to give them a call and see if they still do.

    2. My advice would be to do your research and choose your CSA earlier in the season (ideally Jan/Feb) if you can as many of them are sold out now. But, since your concern is how overwhelming the information is, perhaps it's just as well that you have fewer to choose from. You might consider going to the CSA fair Seward Co-op is hosting in a couple of weeks if you still haven't made your decision by then... http://www.seward.coop/2011-csa-fair-... Then you can talk to the farmers yourself, which can be really rewarding and informative.

      ~TDQ

      2 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Sadly for the OP, the fair was last Saturday.

        1. re: MplsM ary

          Sadly for me, I've forgotten how to read a calendar! For some reason, I thought it was in May, which would be remarkably late.

          Well, at this point I say, snag whichever CSA still has openings this year. I'll bet you can click through each of the farm's links in that Seward link I provided and get a pretty quick idea of which farms still have openings, then choose from there. Hopefully there's one with openings that delivers to St. Paul. If you can't get a half share, you might see if you can get a friend or one of your condo neighbors to split a share with you. I don't recommend trying to split the box every week, but instead have one of you pick up this week, the other next.

          ~TDQ

      2. The trouble with soliciting opinions on this is that people tend to be fairly loyal to their CSAs, and usually only partake of one at a time, so there aren't a lot of data points for comparison.

        We did a half share through Featherstone last year, and are increasing to a full share. I thought the tomato offerings were a weak point, but most of their other vegetables were very high quality. It's also pretty affordable as CSAs go.

        1. Here one option... If you belong to a co-op, see if they partner with any CSAs. It's really convenient to pick up your share, and then knowing what's in your share box you can buy what you need for the rest of the week. Linden Hills offers this. http://www.lindenhills.coop/node/1700

          1 Reply
          1. re: MplsM ary

            localharvest.org is another good resource, FWIW.
            It's true that most CSA veterans are loyal and thus don't have a lot of comparative info.
            This will be my fourth season with Riverbend Farm. I can't say enough good about the food and the experience. They deliver to most of the local co-op's plus a couple other locations around town.

          2. I don't have a favorite, and I have learned that weather and other factors can make a huge difference year to year. So one year, I loved my CSA, the next year, I was not nearly as pleased with the same one (in their defense, we had horrible rains and floods.)

            A few other things to keep in mind. I always did a share with a friend who liked the Thursday pick up, so she could cook on the weekends. I cook more during the week and go out on the weekends. I would have been much better off with a Monday pick up. I never would have given this thought until I lived it.

            The other factor is do you want to do visits and help out? This is an option many offer, and may or may not be of interest to you. I am happy to know where my produce comes from, but had no need to help weed ( a great option if you have kids, etc.).

            Pick one, embrace your box with what ever it has and consider this year a learning year.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rockyd

              Well said! I will always remember Kalefest 2000 when I had to use the seemingly endless onslaught of kale for what seemed like a month or more.

              I valued my outings to the farm. I got to know the farmers and their apprentices, and really got a feeling for what was headed my way in the coming weeks (though somehow the kale escaped my notice). I liked everything I saw but was most impressed with their organizational abilities. They had things down to a science even when it came to getting the most out of their cityslicker day laborers who were all enthusiastic from arrival to waving goodbye driving cars packed with bounteous shares.

              I was really dubious about participating but if I bought into a CSA again, I'd not hesitate to volunteer for a day or two throughout the growing season. Not everybody's thing.

              Dive in and embrace the boxes. Right on.

            2. hi!

              featherstonefarm.com
              expensive, but great! 4th year for us. st paul dropsite avail.