Not all CSA farms operate the same—there’s often flexibility in terms of cost, pickup schedule or location, contents and more. Finding the CSA that works best for you may take some time and a few phone calls, but it’s worth the effort to avoid disappointments or surprises. Here are a few options to consider when choosing your CSA.
Some CSAs offer time-payment or other customized payment plans (Abode, Tributary), sliding scale payment based on income or family size (Rock Steady, Sisters Hill, Solid Ground, Old Ford), partial share or partial season plans (Great Song), or even debit plans that allow you to add to your account during the season (Evolutionary Organics). Some CSAs accept EBT/food stamps (Soul Fire) or allow you to work off some or all of your share cost with working shares (Hawthorne Valley).
Many CSAs offer only on-farm pickup on a set schedule; some may have one or more off-farm distribution sites. Some offer both. Choose a CSA that best suits your schedule and location.
Most CSAs offer pre-bagged shares based on what’s available at the farm. Some, however, offer free-choice shares that allow you to fulfill your share from a variety of available items (Common Hands, Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Blackhorse). Some CSAs may offer specialized shares, including meat or dairy (Hemlock Hill, Kinderhook, St. Croix), flowers (Tiny Hearts, Shoving Leopard) and even herbs and medicinal products (Earthly Remedies, Field Apothecary & Herb Farm, Good Fight Herb Co).
Pick your own
Some farms now allow you to go into the fields to pick your own vegetables, fruit or flowers (Fishkill, Letterbox, Kelder’s).