IS CSA Right for Me?
is a csa right for me?
What's the difference between joining a CSA and shopping at a farmer's market? Which choice is right for me? Why would someone join a CSA instead?
These are great questions to ask. Everyone who is considering joining a CSA should ask them! The reality is a CSA is not the best fit for everyone - and that is ok! CSA members are a "certain kind" of customer, not a better customer, just different in a way that matches the way CSA works. It's best to go into a CSA with your eyes wide open - we want your CSA experience to be a good one! We feel by taking this short survey, you will identify if joining our CSA farmily is right for you!!
take the quiz!
Give yourself 5 minutes or so to read and think through these questions. Keep track of your answers and see what they reveal! Joining a CSA is a big commitment and taking a few minutes now will help you make the best decision for you and your family!
PS: We do a CSA and Farmers Market - so if CSA isn't right for you, but you still want to be a part of our family, you can support our farm by frequenting the various Farmers Markets we attend! And if CSA feels like a good fit, we will be totally thrilled to welcome you to the CSA farmily!
Question 1: is the relationship to the actual farmer important to you?
CSA members want to be able to shake the hand that feeds them: to connect the farmers face with the food they prepare for their families. There's no faceless food in a CSA! We believe there is something rewarding about know you are doing your part to support a local farmer. CSA is a great addition to your weekly routine that allows you to access great-tasting food AND know the farmers whose livelihood relies on it.
Joining a CSA means that you are committed to staying with a specific farmer through an entire season - come thick and thin. (This does not mean you cannot shop at farmers markets etc. it just means your committed - for better or worse during the season to offer support and encouragement - especially if the season is a tough one!) READ THIS IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT! We all know we cannot predict the weather and well we can only plan for so much. We may get scorching sun or pouring rain or a plague of bugs or a certain crop may not appear in your share that season, believe me - we will try our best, but sometimes that may not be good enough. On the flip side, there may be a bumper crop of pickling cucumbers or tomatoes and you will be swimming in the summer bounty.
CSA members live with and embrace the reality that the season may not go as planned. Their motivation for supporting the farm is just as much about having the back of the farmer as it is about getting the full financial value of the share. This relationship goes both ways. As farmers, we want to add value to your life, we want to create a relationship with you, and we want to teach you about where your food comes from and how to prepare it.
So... are you ok with sharing in loss or abundance? Do you want a relationship with your farmer?
- Yep! I want to know the farmer (and farmHers) that grow my food.
- That may not be super important to me.
question 2: do you value having quality vegetable ingredients that actually taste good?
Sad, tasteless grocery store tomatoes. Spinach packages that turn to slime in your fridge within a couple days. Lame. If you are a good potential CSA member, you know these frustrations well. Taste matters!!
One of the most important qualities of our CSA "masters" (folks who stick with the CSA year after year) is that they really love food. Real food. Food that tastes the way it should, because it's grown with care in healthy soil and picked right before pickup. In fact, CSA's often create food snobs, because one you taste how a carrot should really taste, you can't go back to the water down version at the store.
If you really love cooking and you value taste, then you will LOVE being in a CSA. Our CSA is all about providing high-quality, staple and artisan vegetables that make your home dining a delicious experience. You're paying for that taste when you join a CSA. If you're looking for a basic celery and carrot at the cheapest price so you can make an iceberg salad, CSA is not your gig.
So... how much does taste matter to you?
- Yep, 100% taste matters to me.
- No, maybe not quite as much as the dollar value does.
question 3: Are you willing to try new foods? (really?)
CSA's will push you to try new food and explore variety and seasonality in the kitchen. You will discover some veggies that you love. You'll also discover veggies you might have to learn to love. Part of the CSA experience means getting exposed to a bunch of veggies you may have never seen before. We put them in your box but we will also teach you how to eat them. We know that left to your own devices you'd never put kohlrabi in your CSA box. (Or, would you?? If you, you would definitely click with CSA!) It's all a part of the bigger goal of our CSA - food diversity and teaching our community (including our kids) how to eat seasonally again.
So.... how do you feel about trying new veggies??
- Yes, definitely into it.
- Not sure I'm into it.
Question 4: do you need control in your menu planning?
CSA members have to learn to be flexible with their weekly menu. We try to give you a few days notice about what will be in your box, but being willing to swap out ingredients and make things work in the kitchen make the experience much smoother. Some people love this kind of spontaneity - overs get stressed by it. Think hard on this: Are you willing to give up some control over what veggies you get each week? Or do you need to live by your plan?
If you really want to stick to your own plan, you might be better off buying exactly what you want from the farmers market or at a grocery store. The most common reason members leave a CSA is that they didn't get enough of the things they wanted, and too much of what they didn't want. CSA work best for customers who see their kitchen as a creative space, and our veggies as the paint for their canvas.
So.... how flexible do you fell when it comes to meal planning?
- Yes, I can go with the flow.
- No, I need to stick with a plan.
Question 5: Are you willing to work at eating the csa way?
CSA takes some time to see results. If can sometimes take a season or two to really master making the most of your CSA box every week. That means you will waste some food early on, as you go through your learning curve. Come into this experience with an adventurous spirit and be forgiving of yourself if you fail to eat the whole box at first. It can be hard to do, especially if you're a CSA rookie!
There will be many weeks when you have the Brest intentions to be a super-chef and maximize your CSA experience, and then real life sets in you'll find yourself eating raw broccoli with ranch dip. (Personally, I LOVE broccoli with ranch dip - it's just not all that fancy!) It may seem like you are "failing" at your original goal to change the way you eat, but remember - eating more veggies, even if it's with ranch, is already a win! Some veggies may rot in your fridge in a particularly hectic week - and that's ok! Believe it or not - it happens to your farmers too. It takes time to develop new habits, and to learn how to store, prepare and eat a CSA box with ease. Realize that if changing the way you eat is your goal, it takes some time to learn the skill sets. Set realistic goals for your first season, and work your way up to it. We'll be there to help with tips and tricks and recipes every week of the season.
So.... are you ready to do the work?
- Yes, count me in for the whole CSA journey!
-No, I'm not quite sure this is my style.
Question 6: are you looking for a "deaL"? Grocery Store prices vs. csa
People who fully embrace the CSA model don't look for their membership to be a "deal" or a bargain. And they don't compare the CSA experience to the grocery store price table. Read that again. It really is a key point. It is absolutely understandable to ask, "how much does it cost?" and then weigh the pros and cons. Supporting a CSA financially however is not just about doing a cost analysis of each vegetable you receive in your box and comparing it to what you'd pay at Walmart of Aldi. However, when you join our CSA farmily you are getting a discounted rate. Our CSA box costs less than if you were buy item for item at our farmers markets stand - this is because we really on our CSA members to sign up early in the year - which allows us to purchase seed and pay bills during the "off-season". You can bring your kids out to CSA pickup and let them run though our veggie gardens while playing with our kiddos. And while they are busy exploring the adults can catch up and chat about adult-ish things!
Not only are our veggies picked the day or two before pick up but they also come with a story. Not just a story about how it was raised, harvests, or what struggles it faced on the way to your plate. Not just the story of your farmer and how you are helping them live out their calling. Our vegetables become a means to an end: they showcase your journey with food. They are the starring attraction in your quest to master the kitchen and prepare a delicious meal to rival any restaurant fare - a meal you can be proud of. This is not something the grocery store can give you. CSA members appreciate this added value of our product, and are willing to pay for it. If you are thinking to yourself "well, that's more than I'd pay at _____" you may want to hit the pause button on this.
So....are you looking for the best deal or for a new experience?
- Yes, I want the CSA experience!
- No, I really prefer to get the best deal possible.
So!?! how did you do? did you pass the quiz?
Remember, CSA is just one model out there for getting farm fresh food to your table. For those of you who value the farmer relationship, the story and the journey - a CSA is a great opportunity to change the way you eat forever. But there is not shame in passing on CSA and instead visiting the weekly farmers market. We want you to find the right fit - that's why we do both! As in all things, expectations determine how you experience the product. To set yourself up for CSA success, make sure your expectations align with the philosophy of CSA before you take the plunge!
If you think you are ready - click the link below to join our CSA farmily!