HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Discussion

CSA Rating

How's would you rate your CSA? We tried a new CSA this year, that had a different format than most, and I can say that while Kimball Farms has some decent meat, I'm have not been impressed with the quality of the produce. I'm also not pleased with the quantity of produce available for CSA share using Kimball Farms point system. On a 5 star system I'd rate Kimball Farm Feed CSA 1.5 stars. Needless to say, I will not renew with them next year. This is not Kimball Farms in Westford.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I'd rate our CSA, Picadilly Farm, a 5. Bountiful, gorgeous and delicious stuff - all organic. And the owners are just so nice. What's not to love? Highly recommend.

    GG
    http://www.semisweetonline.com

    1. I'd easily give Shared Harvest CSA (fall/early winter share) a 5, based on three years subscribing.

      -----
      Shared Harvest
      Belmont, Belmont, MA

      1. Is it Kimball Fruit Farm in Pepperell -- or is there another Kimball Farm somewhere? I've always found the quality of produce KFF sells at farmer's markets to be pretty high.

        1 Reply
        1. re: stomachofsteel

          No, this is Kimball Farm Feeds in Haverhill. We joined because they offer meat, fresh eggs, as well as produce, and when we have gone to pick up CSA shares, the quality of the produce has been lacking. Based on what I've seen at the Haverhill Farmers Market, they are selling the best and the remainder is going towards CSA shares.

        2. We are customers of the Picadilly Farm CSA that GG mentions and I would rate them a 4. Maybe a 4.5. What's keeping them from a 5 is a) I like to leave a little headroom for improvement and b) I still occasionally get "CSA envy" when I read some of the posts in the CSA thread. I'm not sure what else I could ask for...the produce is gorgeous, tasty, varied, plentiful. Oh, now I sound ungrateful!

          This is our 3rd CSA (well, 4th...details to follow). Our first, Heaven's Harvest was disappointing to me (I would rate them a 2). Our second, Connors Farm, was better (I would give them a 3) and we might have gone back with them but then we did the fall/winter share with Shared Harvest. Oh, my. 5+. And as a result of Shared Harvest we found Picadilly Farm. Definitely happy with them, will definitely sign up for next year.

          I'm curious...is anyone doing the Wilson Farm CSA? Didn't even know they had one until earlier this week.

          Sara

          -----
          Wilson Farm
          10 Pleasant St, Lexington, MA 02421

          Shared Harvest
          Belmont, Belmont, MA

          5 Replies
          1. re: owen_meany

            Could you please provide a link to your referenced CSA thread. I am new to CSA and researching. Joined Farmer Dave's (mostly because of location, choice option and because it was still available) a few weeks ago. Now I am trying to research options for the winter. Thanks.

            1. re: cpl100

              Do you mean where I said "that GG mentions"? GG = Gansu Girl. She mentions Picadilly Farm in this thread....there are other CSA threads on Chowhound (if you search for "CSA" they should pop up).

              1. re: owen_meany

                No, I was replying to you actually. See above where you say: "I still occasionally get "CSA envy" when I read some of the posts in the CSA thread". That is the CSA thread I am seeking. Thanks!

            1. re: shaebones

              I would second a 5 star rating for Luna Farms. Wonderful produce, good communication, and good variety.

              1. re: Ladycale

                Could you give more details about this CSA? I saw a listing for it but couldn't find a website or any detailed information at all. It would be more convenient than my current CSA. I am interested in the variety of items, quality, price/quantity value, etc. Also, do you have a link for information on this? I have searched extensively and cannot locate anything. Thanks.

                1. re: cpl100

                  Contact Lydia or Derek @ Lunafarmcsa@gmail.com

            2. Have been a Waltham Fields Community Farm shareholder for 7 or 8 years - have never been disappointed. Hard for me to grade on a scale, since they are the only CSA I have used.
              The Farm Manager Amanda definitely merits at least a 5.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                This is our 6th year with Waltham Fields...we love it. The only one we've ever used, though, like Bob, so nothing to compare it to. And I agree that Amanda is awesome! Practically worth the price of admission just to get her email newsletter every week...she is an incredible writer. Veggies are always in good shape and the pick-your-own is great also!

                1. re: kt1969

                  I have been a Waltham Fields shareholder for the last 4 years and it's been amazing - definitely a 5. The opportunity to have pick-your-own (plum tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green beans, husk cherries, raspberries, strawberries, unlimited herbs...) and experience a sunny afternoon on the farm is awesome being connected to your food, plus there is always variety and a choice (less in the beginning and more in the end, of course). They've been expanding and improving the program every year too, with an egg share, plus honey/cheese, etc. for purchase, plus somewhere to bring your compost!

                  I did a CSA share with the Food Project before joining Waltham Fields, and it didn't compare. It was good produce, but there wasn't as much of it and I didn't feel as connected to the food. It comes prepacked in a box which is faster and easier, but it also means that you don't get a choice in what you bring home every week. Plus, their newsletters were not even half as good as Amanda's, it's true!

                2. re: Bob Dobalina

                  This is my first year as a member of Waltham Fields. I have done other CSAs in Philly and Boston, but this is by far my favorite. The produce is gorgeous and definitely plentiful (tomatoes, much?). The pick-your-own is sometimes good and sometimes bad - sometimes I have to skip it when my 2-year-old doesn't want to walk into the fields, which makes me sad. However, having some choice when picking up the share is the best part, due to the occasional pickiness of the aforementioned 2-year-old. I have gone to do the pick-your-own on a quiet Sunday morning with only the sound of the rooster crowing, and it feels like I'm on my very own farm, just without all the work!

                3. I've used Enterprise Farm for two summer and one winter share so far, and really enjoy them. Sometimes the greens and lettuce come to me a little limper than I would prefer, but I always really enjoy the variety of produce that I get from them. Like the previous poster, I've only used one, so it's hard to compare - but I would recommend them to anybody asking.

                  Edit: Forgot to mention - I'm also a Chestnut Farm meat CSA shareholder, and I love it. The crew at Chestnut Farm are hard-working and always happy to answer questions, and the quality of the meat is outstanding.

                  1. I do Parker Farm and would rate it a 3 this year. It was a 5 last year. The main reason for the drop is that there is much less variety this go round. Quality of the vegetables is still very high.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: joth68

                      I do the Market share at Atlas Farms Copley Square stand. You prepay, pick what you want from the stand and they charge it to your account. When you run out of funds you can add more. And, when they have a lot of something they offer it at an additional discount to share members. I payed last winter and spent $240 for $300 in goods. My add on next week will be $90 for $100 in goods. They offer a deeper discount if you join earlier.

                      Rate it a 5. It's perfect for me and I get to buy things from other farmers at other markets because I choose how I spend my share dollars at Atlas.

                      Penny
                      http://www.bostonzest.com/

                      1. re: joth68

                        Fellow Parker Farm subscriber. Agree: Last year was spectacular. The year before that was a bum year--got flooded out, had no corn--our first year, but even during that bum year we were still psyched. This year, somewhere in between, but very good. But, each year, everything we get is great food. Can't think of anything we've gotten that isn't high quality. The differences year to year are variety and quantity; in any of those three years, we have not lacked for quantity, however, in our small share for two adults, and sometimes have to work to keep up. He puts weekly updates on his Facebook page, so folks who are interested can see what he's put in his shares this year. We've never had another CSA so hard to rate numerically, but we are pretty loyal.

                        1. re: joth68

                          Another Parker Farm subscriber here. This is our 5th year? Again, it always varies. I've had some of the best corn of my life from Parker. This year is pretty good. 3.5?

                          1. re: bookdwarf

                            A satisfied Parker Farm member here. Quality and quantity have been amazing this year. I'll be back next year.

                            1. re: ponyboy

                              This is my 2nd year with Parker Farm. Agree that quality is great but this year has been somewhat monotonous. Even so, I will definitely return.

                              BTW what happened to the corn? Last year we got 12 ears at a time (for a small!) Was he renting the corn field last year and not this year?

                        2. We do Stillman's half share and it has been abundant and diverse this year. 5 stars.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: gourmaniac

                            We are on our 3rd year with Stillman's, also a half share. Love the variety and quality of their produce. Am considering their winter CSA this year

                            1. re: gourmaniac

                              Four or five years into our Stillman's half-share - Have never had a complaint. Our box is often too big for the family and Glenn lets us swap things at our discretion when there is lots to go around.
                              Comment on the thread: Being a member of a CSA gives me much more of a visceral 'this feels right' feeling than being able to compare whose tomatoes were better. So choose a convenient farm, talk to the farmer, and support local agriculture. You won't be disappointed regardless of the crop.
                              Just my 2 cents.

                            2. Red Fire Farm - this is our second year. We love it ! The variety has been great, although a bit too much lettuce and not enough corn this year. But that might be our personal taste. I would give it 5 stars.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: verka

                                I also have Red Fire Farm - this is my first year, my pick up is in JP. I love it so far....have also enjoyed my visits out to the actual farm in Western MA.

                              2. My CSA, Pleasant Valley Farm in Methuen gets an A+++. The produce I have received as been top notch and also great in variety and quantity. I am getting so much more than I did last year that I have been sharing with my Nephew's family. They are truly having a great year. Also, whenever I go to pick up my box, they always have "extras" that they offer.

                                1. This is our 1st CSA (Marshall's Fenway) experience so I can't compare but I think 3.5 as the variety is not what I expected but the swap table is a great equalizer and I like getting the list by email in advance so I can plan and augment, The quality varies from 2 to 5, again the swap table is always good for a for ditching the 2's.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Berheenia

                                    What do you consider to be the 2s? Assume you mean there are veggies you don't like that are the 2s (kale, for example). :)

                                    I am having trouble understanding the 5 point rating system - is it quantity? How is that being measured? Quality? How is that being measured? Variety? Price?

                                  2. Parker Farm too, and pretty disappointed with it this year, in quantity, quality, and variety. I've gotten corn once!, tomatoes twice! and herbs (basil ) just once or twice . After the first couple of times there was no salad greens to speak of. Mostly beets, potatoes and cabbages. Stuff seems to go all soft and rotting within days of bringing it home. Seriously thinking of switching next year.

                                    1. Having never done a CSA, this seems to be the place to ask a few basic questions. I live in Brookline. Are the CSAs town specific? Where do you sign up / pick up? How many people are in your household to make it a worthwhile venture? I have 2-3 adults. How much does it cost? TIA!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: CookieLee

                                        Here's a website that might be useful:

                                        http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

                                        CSAs are town specific in terms of where they have pick-ups. You would sign up with the farm itself, often through a website. The pickups are often at someone's house. For example, I pick up in Arlington Heights. The boxes of produce are left under the person's covered porch.

                                        We have 3 in our family - 1 veggie lover (me), 1 veggie eater (husband) and 1 child. A full share (~$600) is probably a little too much for us if I'm not on top of it. It does take a fair amount of organization to make sure that things aren't wasted but it's fun and interesting to try out new things.

                                        Sara

                                        1. re: CookieLee

                                          This is our second year with Redfire farm, and most weeks it's a substantial quantity of food. We're two adults keeping a mostly vegetarian diet, so we're making our main meals with this, and it's still a challenge to use it all. Excess often goes into soups in the freezer, and canning. (Last year's summer harvest lasted until February that way). Some people we know split their shares with other families. Quantities can vary--some weeks it's two tomatoes, then six pounds of tomatoes!

                                        2. This year we're doing Farm Direct Co-op. (Second year in a row.) Previously we've done Red Fire Farm and Bay End Farm.

                                          Notes/ratings on all three:

                                          Bay End Farm was nice because we got all of our produce pre-bagged at the pickup site. No weighing, no messing around. This appealed to my lazy side quite nicely. The produce was definitely high quality, and there were a lot of interesting things in the bag, but there wasn't a huge amount of produce. At this point, looking back, I'd give it 4/5.

                                          Red Fire Farm, as compared to Bay End, had much less "exotic" produce (e.g. Asian greens), but much bigger quantities of stuff to take home. Again, very good quality. I think this is my favorite of the three, so I'll give it 5/5.

                                          Farm Direct Co-op gives us decent variety, and enough produce that we often have a bit of trouble using it all. Some of the produce is a bit beaten up, but it's mostly high quality. The range of produce that we get is similar to that of Red Fire, perhaps a bit more extensive. We also subscribe to bread and cheese programs, which is a nice plus. 4.5/5.

                                          -----
                                          Farm Direct Co-op
                                          32 Smith St, Marblehead, MA

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                            I've been with Farm Direct Co-op for 8 years. It's the only one I've found that's really convenient to my town (Melrose); they also have locations in Salem and Marblehead. FDC buys from a number of local growers, with an emphasis on organic and IPM produce. This model allows them to minimize member risk because if one farmer can't provide enough produce, they can work with other farmers. This means that we've never had a season where we get nothing because the farmer had some sort of catastrophe.

                                            The pros: I love the selection system. For the fruits, the single and family shares get a reasonable amount of whatever fruit is on the tables that week. For the vegetables, it's rarely "you must take X" and usually "Pick one unit (a head/bunch or pound) from table 1, Pick 2 units from table 2". I love this because it helps me avoid vegetables I can't/won't eat, for the most part. (In the spring, when there's less variety, there it a bit more along the required lines, but I have to admit that if I'd never had to take kale and kohlrabi, I'd never have learned to appreciate them.) I think the variety is usually about what I what it to be, although there are weeks when something is just coming into season and I want it, but they don't offer it, because they can't get enough from the growers. I like how they offer a bread, cheese and chef's herb share. I like how they experiment with offering other options, such as eggs, or an every week corn or tomato share. For me, it's a pro that they also offer jam, honey and syrup as part of the fruit shares, but I have heard it is a con from other members. I like that they offer home delivery, although I don't think I've ever taken advantage of it. I like that they offer the option to do bulk orders, in case I want to can/pickle foods or stock up for the winter. I like that they offer a November and December pickup option.

                                            The cons: I haven't seen much "beaten up" produce, but it may be because I usually get there pretty early. Although they offer a Tuesday pickup now, I'm still in the Thursday pickup group, which starts at 4pm. I would love better communication in advance about what we can expect in our shares, because the Melrose Farmer's Market starts at 2 on Thursdays and runs out of some items pretty quickly. I don't want to buy corn, for example, before I do my pickup, but if we don't get corn and I really want some, after I pick up my share it is often too late for me to be able to get it at the market.

                                            I suppose my other cons are the cons you have with any CSA... some weeks it's too much and some weeks it's not enough, and you can never be sure you'll get what you want, so it makes advance menu planning difficult. I am a big advocate of the CSA model, but if we had a better farmer's market in our town, I might give up on the CSA in favor of getting exactly what I want, when I want it. Our market, though, is only 1 or 2 produce vendors, and the lines can be insane, which is rough when I've got my kids with me.

                                            This is the only CSA I've been in so I can't comment on the variety/quality of the produce other than to say I've rarely been disappointed by the quality and I always feel like there's a nice variety, although it's not always exactly what I'm looking for that week.

                                            -----
                                            Farm Direct Co-op
                                            32 Smith St, Marblehead, MA

                                          2. We're still loving First Light Farm's CSA. We got a full share, to split with our son, and even half is almost more than we can keep up with. Quality and variety are very very good, too: the little watermelons were terrific. one year, we tried a new CSA in Haverhill - which was horrible. That experience makes us appreciate First Light Farm even more!

                                            -----
                                            First Light Farm
                                            94 Locust St, Danvers, MA 01923

                                            1. This is my Third year with Red Fire Farm csa. I would give it a 5+ . Everything is amazing. They give a great variety. The melons are amazing too. The peaches as well. They also have great newsletters/ communication.

                                              1. Just FYI but I got an email this AM from Shared Harvest and they still have some winter shares available.

                                                http://sharedharvestcsa.com/

                                                Different from a weekly CSA in that there are 2 or 3 monthly pickups...so much more food to deal with at one time but much of it is the kind of food that stores very well over the winter. Our participation last year (we were only able to get the 2 month share...the 3 month one was sold out) was eye opening in terms of just how terrific the produce was. As I mentioned below it's also how we found our current CSA Picadilly Farm.

                                                Sara

                                                -----
                                                Shared Harvest
                                                Belmont, Belmont, MA

                                                1. This is my 2nd year with Farmer Dave and overall very happy. I would say a 4 - 4.5 - although as previous posters said - I'm not sure how this rating system works and I haven't belonged to another, so I'm not sure what might be different. Do all farms send out newsletters and have recipe blogs like Farmer Dave does? We get a half share and 1 fruit share. for 2 adults. I'm a big veggie eater and my husband eats generally what I put in front of him. I have to work hard to make sure we don't have a lot left over at the end of the week. The share is preboxed - which I like and there is a swap box for 1 item. Sometimes there are way too many cukes and of course it's not exactly what I would choose, if I could. But that's what a CSA is all about and well worth it in my opinion. The fruit is excellent with the exception of the melons which are so-so (cantelope and watermelons). Although last week we got a yellow watermelon that was way better than the red one and really yummy.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: pariss

                                                    Thanks to all who have replied and will continue to reply. What we liked about Kimball Farms Feed CSA was the variety of different, (dairy, produce, eggs, meat, maple syrup), I'm guessing that the rule is: when you try to do it all, you do nothing well. I'm looking forward to investigating the other options available in the area and being as pleased as the majority of you are. Previously, we were members of Farmer Dave's CSA and were quite pleased, it was just more produce than the two of us could use. Not a bad thing. I would have rated it 4 stars. 5 stars would have had the variety we were hoping for this year.

                                                  2. Has anyone participated in Green Meadows Farm CSA in Hamilton?

                                                    1. Piping in here for Heirloom Harvest CSA in Westborough. My 3rd or 4th year with them. Never been disappointed. Belonged to 2 other CSAs in the past, one of which was excellent and one which was fair/poor. John is an awesome farmer who is able to roll well with the seasonal punches that nature hands out. Always a few "pick your own" items each week, which I try to do when possible (I hit them on my way back from Worcester each day, so depends on my remaining energy!!). 5 rating for sure.