You know what makes a great Christmas present and an even better New Years resolution? The gift of eating locally, seasonally and healthy with a subscription to a local CSA program. CSA stands for Community Shared Agriculture: a program where a share in a farm is purchased and as a shareholder you receive your portion of the farm’s bounty for the season.
Sideroad Farm offers an 18 week CSA program that runs from the end of June/beginning of July through to the end of October. Weekly shares are picked up in Clarksburg, Collingwood or Toronto. We offer two share sizes – regular and large as well as free-range egg share options. We are just starting to take registrations for our 2015 program and although we have opened up 10 more spots for 2015 we expect the program to fill up quickly again. For more information on what our program offers and to register, please check out our website: https://sideroadnaturalfarm.com/csa-details-and-pricing/ if you’re ready to register, you can do so here: https://www.farmigo.com/join/sideroadnaturalfarm/summer2015
We typically offer 8 – 10 items in each weekly share. In 2014, over 45 crops were featured in the shares over the 18 weeks. The contents of the box is determined by the farm’s crop plans as well as the nature of the season, taking into account environmental factors like pest outbreaks and inclement weather. We grow 100% of the produce offered in the shares which means it is all Certified Naturally Grown (i.e. no chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and non-GMO…amongst other standards that are required to maintain our certification).
Many people who are new to a CSAs question whether they will get value out of their share…or is it better to continue to shop at the farmers market or grocery stores? To investigate this, we did some number crunching at the end of the season this year and found that our CSA shareholders paid $450 in the spring and received $560 worth of farm produce over the 18 week season (based on our farmers market prices for the equivalent items). This equates to a 20% discount for CSA members over our market customers. We have not done a formal survey of organic grocery store prices, but I imagine that it may be challenging to purchase the equivalent organic produce at the grocery store for $25/week.
At the end of each CSA season we offer our shareholders the opportunity to give formal feedback to us by way of an online survey. We think the results of this year’s survey are telling…people love participating in our CSA program, and we expect to have most customers return again for 2015. We had over half of our shareholders respond to the feedback survey and they rated the quality of our produce top notch (shareholders indicated on a scale of 1 to 5, from not satisfied to very satisfied that they were very satisfied [an average of 5 out of 5] with the quality of the produce in the share). Similarly, shareholders indicated that they were also very satisfied with both the quantity of produce they received (4.6 out of 5) and the diversity of produce they received (4.6 out of 5) throughout the season.
Need more convincing that CSA programs are amazeballs? Here is a taste of what our shareholders are saying…
– I looked forward to my market visit every week and was thrilled with the varied array of beautiful veggies. The add ons, including fresh flowers, were great. Patrick and Amy were incredibly friendly and accommodating. I can’t wait for next season!
– We love our farm share! Beautiful veggies, great variety. We are happier and healthier thanks to our wonderful farmers.
– It was my first year. I enjoyed the convenience, variety, the freshness of produce (amazing how long fresh greens last as compared to grocery store). I enjoyed the challenge of learning how to prepare more unusual vegetables. I enjoyed the discussions we had with our farmers re: growing techniques, varieties of vegetables they were trying, food, etc. I feel proud of the young people who are prepared to work so hard to bring quality food to our tables. I think the CSA model is an excellent vehicle to help smaller farms operate more effectively. I found the online system easy and efficient and really looked forward to the newsletters.
– I’m so glad I decided to join and try a season of CSA. I loved it. Every week I looked forward to seeing what was coming and trying new foods and recipes was a highlight of the summer/fall. From the tried and true (butternut squash soup) to stepping out of my comfort zone (making salsa verde from my tomatillos) my “veggie box” got my whole family eating more veggies, feeling healthier and more prepared to experiment with trying new food tastes and looks. Already counting down the days to next season!
– Love love love the variety and quality of the all organic CSA program! Pat & Amy are truly amazing and that passion and dedication shines through each and every week; My husband and I look forward to receiving the weekly newsletter updates and seeing what will be included in our weekly bin. We would HIGHLY recommend the CSA program (with the egg share)!
–I loved the CSA weekly bins! It was like Christmas every Saturday. My husband and I loved the variety and it even got my kids to try new veggies.
Who wouldn’t want to have Christmas every Saturday? If you have any questions about our CSA program or CSAs in general, we’d be happy to chat. If you want to learn more about our program please check out our website: https://sideroadnaturalfarm.com/csa-details-and-pricing/ if you’re ready to register, you can do so here: https://www.farmigo.com/join/sideroadnaturalfarm/summer2015
Amy and Patrick