What is community supported agriculture? Also known as CSA, people buy a “business share” of a farm before the beginning of the growing season. They help to fund so the farm can buy seed, fertilizer, propane, equipment, and hire people to help plant. Buying a share offsets the cost of production when the farm can get an investment up front. Return on your investment comes at harvest time when you receive fresh produce weekly.
It’s a win-win relationship.
• They get to spend time marketing the food early in the year
• Farms receive payment early in the season, which helps with cash flow
• They get to know the people who eat the food they grow
• They literally eat farm fresh food
• They are exposed to new vegetables and ways of cooking
• Kids typically enjoy food from “their” farm
• They develop a relationship with the farmer
Here are some local farms that sell CSA shares:
49 Prospect St., Franklin
Pick up: The farm Thursday 4-7 pm; Saturday 10-3
Franklin Farmers Market Fridays 12-6, Franklin Town Common
Blackstone Farmers Market on Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Started in 1983 as an herb farm, crops are grown pesticide and chemical free. The farm sells dandelion greens, lettuces, Swiss chard, bok choy, peppers, onion, garlic, eggplant, strawberries and more.
The farm sold CSA shares for many years. Last year they developed a CSA alternative. At the beginning of each season, customers buy a $50 Community Discount Card which entitles them to 10% off all purchases for the season.
This the second year the discount card is being offered. They have a lot of repeat customers, said owner Cynthia Garboski. “We are trying different things to help our customers and ourselves,” she said. It’s an easier investment without the large commitment of a CSA share. Customers buy fresh herbs and produce at the farm or farmer’s markets and get 10% off.
Medway Community Farm
50 Winthrop St., Medway
Pick up: Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday.
A 3-season CSA, the farm focuses on sustaining and improving the land. It offers educational programs to the public. A summer share is 20 weeks - June through October. $625 for a large 20-week share; $315 for a small summer share. Prices are prorated if you buy in the middle of the season.
The farm also offers —
• Coffee CSA: they partner with Red Barn Coffee in Upton.
• Egg CSA spring, summer and winter. They partner with The Pumpkin Farm, Medway.
• Fruit CSA in conjunction with Autumn Hills Orchards, Groton.
• Meat CSA. They partner with Pete & Jenn’s Backyard Birds at Codman Community Farms, Lincoln. Animals are pasture raised.
Tangerini’s Spring Street Farm
139 Spring St., Millis
Pick up: At the farm Monday 1-6; Tuesday 11:30-6:30, or Thursday 11:30-6:30
Or Saturdays at Natick Farmers’ Market, Natick Town Common
The farm has become an endearing part of the community. Since it opened in 1994, it has grown in products and service to area families. They sell CSA shares, you-pick produce and flowers. Many amenities include a retail store, farm-to-table lunch, ice cream. The farm recently was purchased by Linda and Steve Chiarazio from original owners Charlie and Laura Tangerini.
CSA opportunities are throughout the year. Summer shares are $650 for 20 weeks; or $400 every other week for 20-week summer.
White Barn Farm
458 South St., Wrentham
Pick up once a week: Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
At the Farmstand
White Barn used to provide a box for produce. People now bring their own bag or box. Check the chalkboard at the farmstand to see what to put into your share that week.
They improved their website so it’s easier to see what’s new. Summer season is $400 for 20 weeks, starting in June. If you buy in the middle of the season, your share is prorated. Fall shares start in Nov. for 8 weeks.
Owner Christie Kantlehner started in 2008. She was a farm of one in 2009 and has grown to a busy enterprise of up to 20 full and part-time people depending on the season.
These farms are in the immediate Local Town Pages region. If you want to look beyond and find other farms that participate in CSA refer to www.localharvest.org. LocalHarvest is a national organization that connects people with the local farmers. For a larger list of farms by region and state, visit www. ams.usda.gov.