At Crème de la Crème of Carmel, we know how important it is for your family to eat healthy meals. One way to ensure you have the fresh, local, organic produce you want your family to eat is to sign up for a community-shared agriculture (CSA) box. This service is a great way to buy organic produce and farm goods as well as support the local economy. Here’s everything you need to know about getting a CSA box in the Carmel, Indiana, area.

What is a CSA box?

Fruits and vegetables from a CSA box in Carmel, Indiana set out on the counter

October Local Produce Haul” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by ilovemypit

A CSA box is a subscription service where you purchase a “share” of a farm’s produce as a way to fund the farm’s efforts. In return, you get a box of fresh, seasonal produce grown on their property and delivered regularly. Depending on the CSA box subscription, you might get a box every week, every two weeks, or once a month. Some farms deliver to your home, while others require you to pick it up at the farm or another location. In addition, some farms may request volunteers in exchange for discounts on CSA boxes.

Participating in a local CSA can have many benefits for your family and your community, including:

  • No chemicals: Many local farms grow produce without chemical pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful substances. However, your local grocery store may not sell produce free of chemicals or have a wide selection of organic goods. Going with a CSA means you’ll likely have better access to organic and chemical-free produce.
  • Unique items: Local farms typically focus on growing produce that’s in season, and some grow items that you can’t normally find in grocery stores. So, by participating in a CSA, you get seasonal and unique produce you would have to go to a specialty store to get.
  • Recipe inspiration: Most CSA box subscriptions don’t allow you to choose exactly what you get. The farm may surprise you with your produce or tell you what they’re putting in the box you purchased. This uncertainty can be a fun challenge for home cooks looking for something new to make. Some farms include recipes in the box or make them available online to give you even more cooking inspiration.
  • Healthier recipes: Many CSA boxes are just fresh fruits and veggies, meaning you’ll be making more produce-focused recipes and encouraging your family to eat more-nutritious meals. 
  • Reduced grocery costs: In some cases, it may be more economical to purchase a CSA box than it would be to buy produce at the grocery store.
  • No shopping necessary: Since the farm puts together your box of produce, you don’t have to do any shopping. This can save you quite a bit of time.
  • Supporting small business: When you get a CSA, you’re spending your money at a local business, which stimulates the local economy.

Where to find a CSA box near Carmel, IN

Here are a few farms that offer CSA box subscriptions near Carmel, Indiana:

  • Tuttle Orchards: This farm’s program is a weekly box of seasonal produce. They offer a small tote box for one to two people and a large tote box for four to six people. Each box is full of farm-fresh fruits and veggies grown right in the Indy area. What you get is a surprise every week, but they include recipes you can try with the ingredients. You can pick up your box at their Farm Store in Greenfield, or other pickup locations, including two in Fishers.
  • Living Roots Farm: Located in French Lick, Indiana, Living Roots Farm sells produce that is grown without any chemicals. They offer a few different ways to pay for your CSA, including a work-exchange program. You can add to your box items like farm-fresh eggs and meats. You can also take part in a flexible CSA where you can choose the length of time you want your CSA subscription to last, which varies in price. This program offers a pickup location in Indianapolis.
  • Garcia’s Gardens: Garcia’s Gardens of Indianapolis has a more untraditional CSA box program: You can purchase a Market Club membership and get a certain amount of free produce every time you shop. You can purchase fresh, seasonal produce on their website and pick it up at one of their farm stand locations. You can also get products like coffee, garden supplies, and plants.
  • Endless Knot Community Farm: This farm, located in Fairmount, responsibly raises farm animals to provide you with the freshest meat. When you become a partner at the farm, you not only get to purchase products, you can also tour the farm. Also available are products like beef, pork, eggs, honey, chicken, lamb, and essential oil blends. You can order online and pick up your items at a local market they deliver to, including one in Indianapolis.

Tips for selecting the right CSA box for your family

There are many things to consider when deciding whether a CSA box is right for your household, including:

  • How many people are in your family, which will help determine how big of a box you need. 
  • How often you cook from scratch, which can help you decide how often you should get a box.
  • Whether you want to pick the produce or are OK with the farm picking for you, so you can find a CSA box that gives you what you want.
  • Whether you have picky eaters or allergies in the family, so you can communicate those needs to your local farm.
  • How much you spend on groceries and how that compares to buying a CSA box. This can help you determine whether you can afford a CSA or if it will help you save money.
  • The kinds of other products you might want, such as eggs, meat, and herbs, to find a CSA box or farm where you can get these additions.

So there you have it, a guide to getting a CSA box subscription in the Carmel area. Are you planning to get a CSA? Do you already have a CSA from a local farm that we didn’t mention here? Let us know, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list!