Community Support Agriculture (CSAs) in North Carolina
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With spring coming we're looking forward to another season with The Produce Box.
We found it to be a great buy for us. It's not only saving us money but it's improving our family's menu with fresh local produce.
We paid the annual enrollment fee ($18) and we're already thinking of how we're going to plan our meals around the weekly deliveries.
This weekend we were chatting with friends and they were speaking about a program that they've signed up for, Carolina Grown, that offers a similar service with produce, meat, dairy, and more.
Community Support Agriculture in North Carolina
With community supported agriculture, when you sign up you’re shareholder or member that has an economic relationship with a local farmer or farms.
The Produce Box and Carolina Grown work to connect North Carolina farmers with local consumers.
These programs offers something slightly different than the typical CSA. They are wonderful ways to get fresh food in a sustainable manner.
It’s even delivered right to your door, making it incredibly convenient.
There are several benefits to this model:
- No upfront fees: Families don't have to pay for the whole season upfront (though Carolina grown does offer that option). Enrollment fees for the year cover containers for deliveries and are less than $20.
- Affordable food: Having already used the Produce Box, I've seen the value of buy the weekly deliveries; we got plenty of food for our money. This season The Produce Box offers a smaller box for feeding 1-2 people, which is a better fit for us.
- No long term commitments: You can skip your weekly deliveries, which is handy when you're on vacation or perhaps still working through last deliveries.
Programs like these can be incredibly powerful, not only for the families signing up for the program, but also for farmers and businesses in the area.
Carolina Grown has a point system that they use for orders. You pay weekly, monthly, or yearly and spend them as you see fit.
The Produce Box is a bit more straight forward with payments.
How it worked last season for us:
- On Fridays we received an email with a list of options for boxes of produce along with news and information about the farmers and member events. There’s a default box that has a variety of items and there are other , typically themed boxes (like all organic, salad box, salsa box, etc).
- We placed your order (or skip the week) by Sunday evening through their website. We also had the option to add on specialty items or extra produce. (If you don’t skip or decide on other box, you’ll be sent the default box for the week.) This year the weekly default is $23 (price include sales tax and the cost of delivery).
- We received our box on Thursdays (deliveries are made Wednesdays and Thursdays). Included with our deliveries were the member newsletters full of tips and recipes for the produce we received.
We loved the system and had no problems when we decided to skip a couples of weeks.
Thoughts on Community Supported Agriculture
I'm happy to see more options in our area for local food and we're looking at Carolina Grown for picking up meats and local specialty items.
I’d love to hear what you have planned for this upcoming season. Are you participating in CSA in your area? Do you plan on growing a home garden?
I’ve been considering joining a CSA for a long time. Getting such a variety of produce every week would probably make me more adventurous in the kitchen, which is a bonus since I’m trying to teach myself how to cook anyway.
One negative review I heard is that the winter selection can get monotonous and boring — i.e. butternut or acorn squash every single week — but I’m sure the spring and summer selections are amazing!
This is a wonderful idea. I’ve never heard of this before but it would be great to implement something like this in Barbados.
We renewed our CSA for the third year. We’re also in NC and use a local farm, supplemented with farmers market visits.