How it Works
Since the life and vitality of our network of farms hinges on each farm’s individuality and unique farm operation, the answer to “how it works” is as many and varied as farms in the CSA Coalition. That being said, we can offer some basic background on the core concepts and help you to narrow down your search to find the right farm for you, your family or your workplace.
In general, CSA farms sign up members from December-April **or until a farm fills up…which can often happen as early as March!** for the coming growing season. New members pay for their share of vegetables up front (some farms offer installment payment plans, but many require full payment at enrollment) and receive a weekly or bi-weekly delivery of vegetables through the 20-28 week high growing season from May-October.
SHARE SIZE & TYPE:
Depending on your farm, you may have the option for a “Standard” share (feeds 4 healthy vegetable eaters every week), a “Half” or “Every-other-week” share (either a weekly delivery of a smaller quantity of food, or a Standard box that comes less frequently), or other variations on quantity and frequency of delivery. Non-vegetable farms offer unique bundles and arrangement for meat, flower, or canned good delivery. Additional products may be available through your farm or their partnership with their neighboring farms (eggs, honey, cheese, etc). The key to happiness with your CSA is your commitment to purchase and utilize fresh food. Pay attention to your cooking and eating habits and sign up for a share size that is right for your family.
In addition to their high season shares, many farms employ season extension practices such as hoop houses or root cellars to offer early and late season shares. The longevity, content and delivery schedule for early and late season shares often varies significantly from farm-to-farm, so be sure to check the details of your farm’s offerings to know what you’ve signed up for!
Once you’re enrolled in your farm, the real fun begins as the weekly box of freshly picked, seasonal goodies arrive in your neighborhood. Most farms write newsletters or blogs for their membership to keep folks connected to life on the farm, introduce new veggies, and inspire new recipes and culinary adventures using all the contents of your weekly box. Opportunities abound to engage with YOUR FARM, to interact with YOUR FARMERS, and to truly become a part of the farm community through on-farm events and special activities. You’ve made the commitment to buy from a local farm and eat the freshest food available; we encourage you to engage in your greater farm community and bring your commitment full circle.
The NUTS and BOLTS:
1-Do your homework!
Become familiar with the farms in your community by attending the CSA Open House, dedicating time to reading about farms offerings and their philosophy, and seeking out logistical information on, pick up locations and share offerings.
2-Use the Farm Search
Play with some options for share types and details on the CSA Farm Search. You can select different offerings and details to see what farms meet your criteria, then follow up with a few to work out the details.
3- Contact the Farmer
Contact farms with any questions you have to get detailed answers. If you’re ready in March, the CSA Open House is a great time to meet farmers in person and sign up on the spot.
4- Sign up!
Send a check or enroll online (some farms can accept on-line payment and some require mailed checks), and send in your full information to ensure that the farmer has all the details that she/he needs to get you your fresh food!
If the cost is a barrier, our Partner Shares Program may be able provide financial assistance to income-eligible households.