It’s almost that time of year! Local CSA options…

Last year I posted part of this article under All CSAs are not created equal part II however I thought it worth posting again and including all our local options.  You can visit each farm’s website for a complete crop listing.  Please note that the prices and pick up days and times may have changed.  Enjoy the anticipation of the harvest!

Choosing the CSA That’s Right for Your Family

How I love this time of year.  For me it is a time of much anticipation.  So close to once again being able to feed my family fresh, locally grown produce.  Time to get out of the grocery stores and back to the farms!  It is also the time when many of us consider joining a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program.  Choosing a CSA can often be confusing and overwhelming.  Do a farm’s growing practices align with my food quality standards?  Will I be able to choose the items I need each week?  Will the offerings be the fruits and vegetables my family enjoys?  The choices are many.

Our first CSA experience was simply okay.  We joined before I was as in tune to the differences in how produce can be grown and since then my food quality standards have shifted.  I also left each week with items I wasn’t familiar with, had no idea how to prepare and ended up wasting.  After two years with that particular farm we switched and I could not be happier.

 So how do you choose a CSA that is right for your family?  For me it comes down to three facto

  1. Growing practices
  2. How shares are distributed
  3. Selection of crops

Growing practices vary from farm to farm and sometimes even within the same one depending on the crops.  Some farms are USDA certified organic while others adhere to, or even go beyond, organic growing standards and are toxin free.  Some farms use chemical fertilizers, herbicides and/or pesticides while others practice a little bit of everything.  While offerings from one farm to another can appear alike they can be anything but the same, and navigating this maze can be challenging.   We live in an area where high quality, non-genetically modified and toxin free produce is available and this is what I look for first and foremost when choosing a CSA.

How a farm distributes each week’s harvest usually falls into one of three categories.  Some farms pre-box their weekly offerings for convenience and to make sure all shareholders receive the same items.  Others provide a pre-selected list of items, similar to a grocery list, and allow you to pick them from their farm stand.  Others leave it completely up to you by simply providing the week’s harvest and allowing you to choose whatever you like.  Since I’m still learning to be adventurous in the kitchen, I look for complete freedom of choice so I can pick the items I know my family will eat.  Many farms also offer ”pick your own” fields that I find to be an added benefit. 

The selection of crops varies from farm to farm as well.  Larger farms typically offer a wider variety of crops.  Some farms focus solely on vegetables while others include additional items in their shares such as fruit, eggs, and cider to name a few.  I enjoy having fruit in our shares so I look for a CSA with that option.

The following is what I’ve learned as I’ve navigated my way through researching and exploring which CSA will serve my family best.  Some of the farms below only offer CSA’s, some have farm stands that are open to the public and most can be found at local farmers’ markets.  All are non-GMO.  My hope is that the information below will help you choose the CSA and farms that are right for you and your family. Enjoy the harvest!

Arrowhead Farm, Newburyport

Farming Practices

No use of chemical fertilizers and pesticide sprays.

Distribution Style

Members choose each item from a pre-selected list however they do allow you to swap out items.  Pick your own fields are often available.

Share Offerings and Prices

Full Share $695 for vegetables only.  Add on options available. 

Smaller Share $545

Pick Up Days

Saturdays 11AM – 3 PM and Sundays 9AM – 12PM

Cider Hill Farm, Amesbury

Farming Practices

According to owner Glenn Cook, Cider Hill has many organic crops however they are not certified organic.  Many crops are chemical free however they implement IPM (integrated pest management) strategies on some, which allows for the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

Distribution Style

Pre-selected and boxed for you with a swap table.

Share Offerings and Prices

Full Share $600

Half Share $325

Pick Up Days

Weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays 11AM – 6PM

Herrick Farm, Rowley

Farming Practices

Owner Kristen Herrick states, “no organic certification but we use organic growing practices.”

Distribution Style

Members choose each item from a pre-selected list.

Share Offerings and Prices

Full Share $500

Pick Up Days

Choice of Tuesdays or Fridays 3:00 – 6:30PM

Heron Pond Farm, South Hampton, NH

Farming Practices

Non-certified organic.  Leafy greens and fruit are never sprayed.  Ultra low pesticide spray is used on corn crops.

Distribution Style 

Members choose each item from a pre-selected list.

Share Offerings and Prices

Double Share $1,100

Full Share $550

Half Share $325

Pick Up Days

Weekly on day of your choice

Long Hill Farm, West Newbury

Farming Practices

Owner Cindy Adams states “we pride ourselves on growing from seed to harvest using organic standards, however we are not certified organic. We do not use any pesticides, herbicides or chemicals to produce crops.”  Regarding fruit crops she shares, “our fruit is grown using IPM standards.Only when we see that the insect population would cause extensive damage would we apply a spray to control it. We do not use restricted use pesticides, and we do not use any herbicides at all.”

Distribution Style

Farm stand style allowing shareholders freedom to choose their weekly items. Pick your own is included at no additional cost.

Share Offerings and Prices

Full Share $600

Half Share $350

Quarter Share $200

Pick Up Days

Friday and Saturday however they are flexible with pick up.

Mehaffrey Farm, Rowley

Farming Practices

Owner Maggie Mehaffey states, “we are not certified organic but we are committed to organic practices, chemical free and no GMO.”

Distribution Style

Members choose each item from a pre-selected list. Pick your own crops are often available for herbs, green beans, cherry tomatoes and peas.

Share Offerings and Prices

Full Season Share: You Pick Option $600 or Pre-picked $660

14 week share: You pick $475 or Pre-picked $550

10-week share: You pick $335 or Pre-picked $360

Sampler Shares: 5 weeks for $200, 3 weeks for $120 or 1 week for $45

Pick Up Days

Choose Monday or Tuesday 2-7:00 PM

Middle Earth Farm, Amesbury 

Farming Practices

Non-certified organic.

Distribution Style

Members choose each item from a pre-selected list.

Share Offerings and prices

Full share cost before April is discounted in increments, after April 1st: $600

Pick Up Days Tuesdays 11AM – 6PM

New Harmony CSA, West Newbury

Farming Practices

Certified organic.  Owner Erin Stack states, “While New Harmony Farm is one of only two certified organic CSA’s on the North Shore, we are proud to be going beyond certified organic requirements with our commitment to growing nutrient dense foods, using regenerative growing methods which focus on improving soil health and working in harmony with Nature to create a sustainable and vibrant farm ecosystem.

Distribution Style

Farm stand style allowing shareholders freedom to choose their own weekly offerings.

Share Offerings and Prices

Full share $625

Half share $400

Pick Up Days:

Thursdays 3 – 6:30PM

Fridays 2 – 6 PM at First Parish Church in Newbury

Saturdays 10AM -12PM

Other area CSA’s worth looking into are Colby Farm (Newbury), Marini Farm (Ipswich) and Green Meadows Farm (certified organic in S. Hamilton).  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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