If you’re looking for a way to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your family’s diet, you can’t go wrong by signing up for a CSA box. CSA memberships support local farmers while providing your family with constant access to the very best produce out there.
Maybe you don’t know if a CSA membership is right for you, or you’re unsure what CSA means. Don’t worry; Crème de la Crème of South Barrington has you covered.
What Is CSA?
“baby carrots” used with permission via Unsplash by gabrielgurrola
Before you dive into the world of CSAs, it’s important to understand exactly what CSAs are. CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. It’s a farming model created for fairness and transparency between the consumer and the participating farmers.
A traditional CSA will allow you to buy a share of the farm upfront. This approach helps farmers build financial security for a given season. In return for buying a share, you’ll get a regular box of fresh produce — or eggs, meat, and other products, depending on the CSA you join.
Though this model may seem a little unconventional if you’re used to visiting your local supermarket to stock up on groceries for the week, the CSA structure can make a big difference for local farmers while preserving the environment. At the same time, you’ll get to enjoy many benefits yourself when you sign up.
The Many Benefits of Joining a CSA
Heaps of fresh fruit and piles of nutritious veggies are just the start. Here are some more benefits you can expect once you’ve found the right local CSA box for your family:
- Eating locally grown, super fresh produce: This is mainly why many families get a CSA box. A CSA farm gives members the best produce it has and may offer other products like eggs, honey, or flowers. In other words, you’ll get access to unique varieties — and before anyone else, that is. You may even get to test out produce farmers are considering adding to their larger market offerings. The best part is, everything you get is incredibly fresh.
- Building a relationship with farmers: By signing up for a CSA program, you’re creating a relationship with a farm and its farmers. This membership is often an eye-opener for families, as they’ll get to know a real person and their unique situation while enjoying the products they supply.
- Saving money: If you do a lot of cooking, joining a CSA can yield big savings. Yes, you’ll need to actually use what you get in your box to come out ahead. That’s because the cost of your CSA box is usually significantly less than the cost of buying similar amounts and quality of produce from a store or farmers market.
- Saving time: CSA boxes are extremely convenient. You’ll just pick up your box at the appointed time instead of having to go to a market or store to search for, bag, and pay for your weekly groceries.
- Leveraging a flexible formula: If you’re not sure you’ll use all the produce you get in a box, you might consider farms that offer half-shares or think about splitting a share with a friend or neighbor.
- Understanding local growing practices: Owning a CSA box will put you in touch with local seasons. You may get a newsletter along with your box explaining field conditions and why some products are harvested early or late. In other words, CSA boxes promise a connection to the land, which is missing from most other modern shopping practices.
- Enjoying members-only perks: Many farms will offer CSA members perks like seasonal deals, special events, and more. You may get invited to stock up on items at the end of the season so the farmers can clear the fields or to attend pick-your-own events during peak seasons. Not only do these events guarantee great deals, but also they offer a ton of fun for your family. What’s more, farms may hold events such as farm tours, barbecues, and festivals.
- Getting to try new foods: Though most farmers try to keep you informed, you never know what you’ll get in your box. The CSA structure is a great way to try new things. You’ll get a box, open it, and find something you’ll need to find creative ways to use. Trying out new foods might become an adventure if you so desire.
All in all, if eating local and supporting local farmers are important to you, a CSA membership offers a great opportunity to do both. By signing, you’ll know the plot of land your food comes from and get to intimately understand the food you eat and what goes into growing it.
Finding a CSA Box in South Barrington
So, how do you find a CSA box close to home once you’re ready to join? The Local Harvest website provides a great resource. You just plug in your zip code and then browse the options that come up to see what meets your family’s needs. You’ll want to make sure you can fit designated pick-up times into your schedule before signing up. You can also find some CSA boxes available for home delivery. Here are a few CSA memberships in our area to get you started:
- Angelic Organics: From June through October, Angelic Organics offers weekly or fortnightly boxes with fresh vegetables and herbs. The farm grows organic and biodynamic vegetables.
- Geneva Lakes Produce: With various pick-up sites close to South Barrington, Geneva Lakes Produce provides some of the benefits of a CSA membership. For instance, the family-owned and -operated farm lets members fill their own boxes.
- Middlebury Farms: There two reasons we recommend Middlebury Farms to local families: (a) their 20-week growing season, from June through October, and (b) their fresh produce, including peppers, strawberries, and beets. You can pick up a box every week or every other week from one of their branches conveniently located from South Barrington.
That concludes Crème de la Crème of South Barrington’s guide to finding a CSA box close to home. Do you have another tip local families should keep in mind? Drop us a line so we can add your recommendation!