10 Tips For Choosing a CSA

10 Tips For Choosing a CSA


I am a strong proponent of a CSA; community supported agriculture. Hubby and I have belong to a CSA for many years now, first with Porter Farms, and the last few years with Root Down Farms in New York State.

We do not belong to a CSA in Florida… the timing, expense and choices do not make it feasible for us. Every year prior to arriving in Florida for our snowbird season, Hubby does spend some time researching local Florida CSAs just in case a new one has cropped up that is reasonably close, and fits our time-frame down here. So far, no luck, but we keep hoping.

Over the last seven years of belonging to a CSA, I’ve learned a few things along the way that I would like to share with you all:

10 Tips For Choosing a CSA

Find a Local CSA – So how do we research local CSAs? Well the best place to begin is localharvest.org. You can choose the type of CSA you are looking for – everything from produce to eggs to beef to honey … heck in my area there is one for alpacas!

10 Tips For Choosing a CSA


Cost – balance the cost of the CSA against what you would pay for organic produce in your local grocery store.

Pick-up Time and Day Of The Week – We actually chose our current CSA based on the pick-up time and day. Hubby cooks on the weekend, and knowing what vegetables he will have on hand as of Thursday is a tremendous perk to us. Some CSA run bi-weekly, some monthly. Make certain you understand how often there is a distribution before you sign up.

How Long Is The Season? – This matters when weighing the cost and your availability to pick-up. If you are out of town for 4 weeks during a pick-up, you need to factor that in. We snowbird in the winter, so can’t participate in our CSA’s local winter share; we’d miss half the pick-ups!

What If You Can’t Pick-up That Week? – If you miss a week due to a conflict, find out what happens to your share. Diferent CSAs handle this in various manners: distribution to the local foodbank, allowing a friend/family member to pick-up for you, etc. Ask before you sign up!

Location, Location, Location – Distribution can be handled either via delivery (with an upcharge) or on-site pick-up, depending on the CSA. Our current CSA is a pick-up at the farm. Our old CSA was pick-up at various small distribution sites. We would have to drive to the farm once a season, and bring back the produce for everyone else’s share that week. And, other CSAs have house-drop-off where they deliver right to your door! Make sure you know the details of delivery, including time and day constraints, before you sign up for a CSA.

What’s In The Bag? – Find out from your CSA what types of vegetables they grow, are they organic, all natural, or use pesticides? Is there an average amount of produce expected in your weekly CSA Box or Bag? Does it vary as the season progresses (our June bags are light, our October bags are so heavy, I need help carrying it!) Is all the produce from that farm? If not, what other farms are contributing to the CSA share (for instance our fruit share is from a variety of farmers, nothing is grown my the CSA farm we contract with). While all CSAs are weather dependent, none will survive if they don’t plan for crop failures and bag substitutions.

Is There A U-pick Option – some CSAs have a u-pick option if you pick up at the farm location. Ask if the u-pick is included in the season’s price.

Do They Have A Method Of Communication? – A website, blog, facebook page or heck even a phone chain- something is necessary for up to date information including possible distribution cancellations, “what’s available this week” information, possible recipes for unusual vegetables included in the weekly CSA, etc. There needs to be a method where you can get updates easily “just in case”.

Just Go With It! – Joining a CSA is more than just buying in-season local crops; it is meeting new people, trying new foods (you should see some of the non-mainstream vegetables and fruits we have tried over the years… and learned to like!), AND supporting the local economy, all while enjoying delicious, fresh food.

If you aren’t sure if a CSA is for you, check out this post: The Dirty Dozen – What Organic Fruits & Vegetables You Should & Shouldn’t Buy and then locate your local CSA for options. A CSA may be just the ticket for your family!

For 2015, our CSA price is as follows for Root Down Farms:

• Fruit Share costs $180, 18 weeks:
The local fruit included in the fruit share starts with cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, and moves into pears, raspberries and of course apples! This begins in July.

• Farm Shares costs $545, 22 weeks:
The share will provide enough fresh produce to feed a family of four. It also includes the Upick section.

Our CSA shares cost a bit less because we renewed early, and paid in full. To see our past CSA Farm shares, click here.

Do you belong to a CSA? If so, what tips do you have for choosing a CSA?


Find a CSA
Porter Farms CSA (we belonged for years)
Rootdown Farm CSA (our 2015 CSA)
NYS Fruit and Vegetable Harvest Calendar
US Agricultural Data


• Follow my Mind Your Peas and Cukes pinterest board for farm-stand and CSA information, as well as fruit and vegetable recipes.


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2014 CSA Share Week 22

2014 CSA Share Week 20


This is the diary of our 2014 CSA share. The cost of our full share is $545 for 22 weeks (this CSA offers a winter share) which will bring us to the last week in October, and works out to $24.75 per week. Western New York weather is such that June is lightest CSA month. September and October will be more than abundant! Usually I feel I don’t get my money’s worth the first few weeks (which will be predominantly lettuces), but the fall bags more than make up for that.

We also purchased a Fruit Share this year for $180, lasting 18 weeks which works out to $10 per week. The local fruit included in the fruit share starts with cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, and moves into pears, raspberries and of course apples! This portion of the share begins in July.


Well, I’ll tell ya, the CSA certainly went out on a high note this year. The bag I hauled out of there yesterday must have weighed 30 or so pounds! There was 7 pounds of fruit (Asian pears, pears and apples), and the fall vegetables easily added another 25#. This was one of the best weeks we received this year.

We did sign up with the same CSA for next year, and I explained the reasons why last week. It is interesting to me to look at the weekly CSA shares (click here to see them all) and how what we received in 2014 compared to what we received in 2013.

To me the fruit share was a smashing success! Hubby and I didn’t go for a ride for produce once this year, which was both good and bad. While I do enjoy the drives (especially up by Lake Ontario), we just didn’t have the time this year with Max’s illness taking over much of our lives. Hubby is also trying to finish rehabbing a rental for December 1st, so many is the week he is out there 6 days a week installing floors, kitchens and whatnot. Once football started, there was no way I was taking a ride on a Sunday, so all in all the fruit share was not only a great value (at $10 per week), but it kept me out of the grocery store, and off the road.

What I took for our final share of the 2014 CSA season…

2014 CSA Share Week 22

• Apples*
• Asian Pears*
• Beets
• Broccoli
• Brussels Sprouts*
• Cabbage
• Carrots*
• Cauliflower
• Chard
• Delicata Squash*
• Daikons
• Fennel
• Kale*
• Onions*
• Parsnips
• Pears*
• Peppers, sweet* and hot
• Potatoes*
• Radicchio
• Radishes
• Romanesco Broccoli*
• Spinach*
• Sweet Potatoes*
• Turnips
• Various Greens*

* took for share

Do you belong to a CSA? If so, what type? How much? Do you find it as worthwhile as I do?


• For more

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2014 CSA Share Week 21

2014 CSA Share Week 20


This is the diary of our 2014 CSA share. The cost of our full share is $545 for 22 weeks (this CSA offers a winter share) which will bring us to the last week in October, and works out to $24.75 per week. Western New York weather is such that June is lightest CSA month. September and October will be more than abundant! Usually I feel I don’t get my money’s worth the first few weeks (which will be predominantly lettuces), but the fall bags more than make up for that.

We also purchased a Fruit Share this year for $180, lasting 18 weeks which works out to $10 per week. The local fruit included in the fruit share starts with cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, blueberries, and moves into pears, raspberries and of course apples! This portion of the share begins in July.


Well, after complaining all year about little things with this CSA, and getting the renewal notice last week, it was time to do some research to decide if I could get over what I disliked this year, or move on. After a pretty extensive search, we found a few that were quite local.

One CSA I found was a good $300 more expensive a year than our current CSA, so forget that one. Another CSA was about 3 minutes away, offered eggs as an option, and would have been $1.50 less per week. No u-pick though. So, we had to weigh whether or not we got $30 worth of u-pick produce in 2014 and in 2013, and the truth is we did – plus a lot more.

Now that new, close place would also have been bagged. That would have been a perk. And the eggs… definitely a perk. But working with what was offered on what day of the week, cost, and upick options, we decided to stick with our current CSA. While not Porter Farms cheap (what CSA is!?), it apparently is not that expensive either. The pick-up day really works for us. I am hoping the extra, earlier, hour of pick-up time alleviates the congestion and one of my biggest peeves about the CSA this year.

We “locked in” at the 2014 prices, and I dropped off a $735 check yesterday. The $180 for the fruit share was soooooo worth the expense that there was no way we were not buying that. I contemplated half a share (at about 35% less money), but Hubby should be home more next year, and cooking more regularly.

Next week is the last week for our 2014 CSA share. Hubby and I froze a lot of vegetables this year! I hope they will see us through until we leave for Florida in late December or early January.

On to this week’s share… The cider we received had a price tag on it from Hall Apple Farm which is pretty close to where we live (they said it was Springer Farms which would have made sense, but that wasn’t what the sticker said). And Hall Apple Farm has a store. That sells chocolate!! And baked goods!!! Guess where Hubby and I are going to check out this weekend or next?

2014 CSA Share Week 21

• Acorn Squash
• Apples*
• Asian Pears*
• Beets
• Broccoli
• Butternut Squash*
• Cabbage*
• Carrots*
• Cauliflower
• Cider*
• Chard
• Delicata Squash*
• Fennel
• Kale
• Parsnips*
• Pears
• Peppers, sweet and hot*
• Potatoes*
• Radishes
• Spinach*
• Turnips
• Various Greens*

* took for share

Do you belong to a CSA? If so, what type? How much? Do you find it as worthwhile as I do?


• For more CSA posts on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.

Mind Your Peas and Cukes pinterest board: All things CSA, Produce, Farmstead Fresh – community supported agriculture, farmstand fresh produce, organic produce, more from all over the United States.

CSA posts
Find a CSA
Porter Farms CSA (we belonged for years)
Root Down Farm CSA (our 2013 and 2014 CSA)
NYS Fruit and Vegetable Harvest Calendar
US Agricultural Data


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