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Insider’s Guide: Find out Which Local CSA is PERFECT For You
Food

Insider’s Guide: Find out Which Local CSA is PERFECT For You

Guys! Everyone! It’s time again! It’s spring!

Time to get used to more daylight, swap out the bulky sweaters for summer dresses, trade in those heavy boots for sandals, wipe the dust off of your juicer, and sign up for your Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share.

I love this time of year (mostly because I’ve long since forgotten what Philadelphia in July feels like, and will give anything not to put on four layers before I leave the house). But really, I love planning for summer foods: buttery grilled corn, cooling summer squash, crunchy asparagus, big salads, and all the fruit I can handle. As Philadelphians, we are so very lucky to be smack center between New Jersey farms and miles of lush Pennsylvania land, which gives us ample opportunity to indulge in all of the summer’s freshest produce through countless local CSA shares.

If you’ve never tried a CSA before (what’s stopping you?!) or if you’re a CSA veteran curious about what other options there are, use the following post as your field guide to all things local, sustainable, and delicious.

How to find your Perfect Philly CSA

Convenience

For many of us, it’s not so easy to travel out to the ‘burbs (or even further) for local produce. Thankfully, many CSA shares have drop-offs right in the city, and several have at least a few options for pick-up locations.

The following shares have the most variety of times and locations, giving you the flexibility to swing by on a Saturday morning, pick-up after work on a weeknight, select a location nearest your workplace or one closer to your home.

  • Greensgrow Farms: (It should be noted, Greensgrow calls its share program “City Supported Agriculture” since they are an urban farm in Philadelphia.) Greensgrow offers several pick-up locations throughout the city: at their farms in Kensington and West Philly, Southwest, Center City, Callowhill, and Queen Village. They offer different options for pick-up times at their primary locations in Kensington and West Philadelphia, Thursdays or Saturdays. For the busy city dweller, I can’t think of anything with more flexibility. They also offer a “vacation week” for full-share members.
  • Crawford Organics: This family-run farm has drop-offs at a variety of locations throughout the city and the surrounding areas, including Center City, Chestnut Hill, Fairmount, Mt. Airy, Northern Liberties, Rittenhouse Square, Society Hill, South Philly, and West Philly. They also offer home delivery (for an additional cost) to anyone living within 20 miles of the farm.
  • Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative: This popular share has over 60 pick-up locations across Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. Use their website to check out a location closest to you.

Price

CSA shares vary in quantity, quality (think organic vs. conventional), and length. Depending on this, shares can range in price from a low of $25 per pick-up to $45 per pick up. Below are some options for those looking to participate in a farm share without blowing their budget.

  • Z Food Farm: A small, organic farm located in Lawrenceville, NJ, Z Food Farm offers Market Share Membership where members buy credits ahead of time that offers bonus credits just for doing so. For example, pay $250 and receive $265 worth of credit, $500 get you $550 worth of credit. This share works a little differently; instead of accepting the vegetables and fruit offered to you by the farm, you select exactly the produce and quantity you want.
  • West Philly Foods: West Philly Foods offers lower than average prices for a full or half share at $640 for a full share (10 to 12 pounds of local fruits and veggies per week) or $375 for a half share (5 to 6 pounds of local fruits and veggies per week) for 21 weeks, May through October.
  • Taproot Farm: This family-owned farm in Shoemakersville, PA offers a 23-week share at a rate of $410 for the core share (5 items per week), $485 for a partial share (6 items per week), or $665 for a full share (10 items per week). The full share works out to just under $30 per week, which represents the lower end of the CSA price spectrum.

In addition, some CSA shares, like Greensgrow and Kneehigh Farms offer opportunities to work in exchange for a cost reduction on your total share cost.

Diversity of Product

Some shares offer only veggies. Some, a combination of fruits and veggies. Some of you want some dairy or bread. Some of you may hate veggies and only want to get down with some meat. Whatever suits you, these shares offer the widest range of diverse products.

  • Red Earth Farm: Located in Kempton, PA, this farm provides a variety of vegetables in each partial and full share, but also includes options to add-on shares of artisan cheeses, eggs, flowers, fruit, and yogurt.
  • Philly Food Works: This diverse share includes both fruit and vegetables in their regular shares, and allows options for eggs, bread, meat, yogurt, and cheese.
  • Highland Orchards: The family-run farm share allows you to choose from a fruit-only, meat-only, or veggies with fruit (and herbs) share. There are tons of options for add-ons, including veggies, eggs, fruits, honey, preserves, dairy, bread, and live plants.

(Note: previously mentioned Greensgrow Farms and Taproot Farms offer plenty of options for add-ons, including cheese, bread, coffee, and meat.)

Uniqueness

Sick of four weeks of cabbage? Interested in a farm that uses the most sustainable methods possible? Want to support local Philadelphia high school students’ learning? Check out these unique CSA programs that offer a new take on the regular old farm share.

  • Kneehigh Farm: Kneehigh Farm is owned and operated by one woman, Emma Cunniff, who runs her operation across seven acres in northern Chester County. Kneehigh Farms works on a mission of activism; Cunniff first came to Philadelphia to provide local and sustainable foods for individuals in urban areas who lack access. Kneehigh is a regenerative farm, meaning the farmers work with the land, growing food in season, organically, that is not chemically treated or grown with GMO seeds, and uses a drip irrigation system that reduces water waste and soil erosion.
  • Weaver’s Way: The Weaver’s Way CSA is a partnership amongst Weaver’s Way Co-op, Weaver’s Way Community Programs, B. Saul High School of Agriculture, and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Produce is grown at Saul, and the farm is managed collaboratively by Weaver’s Way staff and Saul students and teachers.
  • Love Grows CSA: The Love Grows CSA with Snipes Farm (located in Morrisville, PA) offers customizable shares that put the power of selection into your hands (within reason, or really, season, of course). They offer a harvest schedule that helps you decide what to expect and when. But take note: this farm share delivers only to Bucks County.

Remember, whichever share you choose, you are helping to support local, sustainable agriculture, and steadily working to make Philadelphia a better, happier place. Go, you!

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Alisha Ebling is a writer, biker, vegan food consumer, and lover of all things book-related. You can find more of her writing on her website, or follow her @alishakathryn. View all posts by Alisha Ebling

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