Community-supported agriculture ("CSA") is a system in which a farm delivers its produce directly to consumers, typically through a once-a-week delivery of a box of whatever is currently in season, prepaid on a quarterly or yearly basis. This no-middleman arrangement gives the farm a steady source of income independent of fluctuations in market prices, reduces costs, ensures maximum freshness, and can provide a captive market for items with limited commercial appeal, such as lambsquarter (a delicious green generally treated as a weed) or cosmetically challenged fruit.
I recently rejoined Full Belly Farm's CSA program
. This 200-acre Capay Valley organic farm delivers to the East Bay, South Bay, and San Rafael. I paid for three months in advance, and pick up my box at a drop-off point, so the cost is $16.50 a week. Paying yearly would drop the cost by 50 cents; having the box delivered to my house would add $7.
This week's box contained:
- 1 bunch broccoli (1 lb.)
- 2 navel oranges (2 lbs.)
- 1 bag salad mix (8 oz.)
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe (14 oz.)
- 2 large bok choy (1.5 lbs.)
- 2 large leeks
- 1 bunch carrots (1 lb.)
- 1 celery root (1 lb. 5 oz.)
at the farmers market this week, these same items would have cost about
$24 total, so I saved over 30%--and that's not counting the extra
portion of bok choy I snagged from the drop-off site's free box, where
subscribers toss items they don't care for. There was also a box of
free Meyer lemons, which would have been a thrill if I hadn't brought
If you live in San Francisco, I recommend the CSA programs of Eatwell Farm, Terra Firma Farm, and Two Small Farms (High Ground Organics and Mariquita Farm). You can find additional CSAs serving SF and other parts of the Bay Area on omorganics.org.