If you’re looking for a way to get your kids excited about trying new vegetables — or maybe interested in trying your hand at some new recipes yourself — you’ll want to consider joining a CSA. Crème de la Crème of Gilbert put together this guide for finding a CSA box in the area that will work well for your family.
Wait, Exactly What IS a CSA?
“chopping ingredients” used with permission via Unsplash by kate5oh3
A CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, is a group whose members get shares of food from a certain farm in their area. Joining a CSA is a great way to get continuous access to your fruits, vegetables, and other foods, all while supporting local agriculture. Instead of buying from a market or retailer, you support those local farms directly.
You’ll typically pick up a box at a set time right at the farm itself or at a community location, such as a farmers market, school, or even neighborhood bar. You have to sign up first before getting access to your produce (and other goods). Joining a CSA is a commitment, but doing so delivers an array of benefits for your family as well as the local producers.
The Benefits of Joining a CSA
Whether you’re looking for a way to shop more sustainably or you want a method to show your support for local farmers and growers, a CSA can offer a great fit. Some of the many benefits of joining a CSA include:
- Building a healthier diet overall.
- Enjoying better tasting food.
- Getting freshly picked produce that is free from harmful chemicals and more nutritious than other options.
- Getting the opportunity to try out new foods.
- Knowing exactly where your produce, meats, etc. comes from.
- Protecting the environment.
- Saving time and money.
- Supporting local farmers and sustainable agriculture.
Your weekly CSA box may be just the trick you need to inspire picky kiddos to try out new veggies, too! After all, there’s something to be said for the fun and adventure of getting a box full of food, then finding new ways to cook, taste, and enjoy it.
How To Find a CSA in Your Local Area
So, how do you find a CSA in the Gilbert area? Perhaps more importantly, how do you find the RIGHT CSA in your area? Here are some steps you can take to find a local CSA that’s a good fit for your family’s needs:
1. Search For CSAs Close to Home
When you’re ready to start checking out CSAs available in your area, simply plug your zip code into the Local Harvest website. Farmers can list their farms and CSAs here, and most farmers use this site. Then, browse the listings in a certain radius and start narrowing down options that meet your needs.
Some amazing CSAs in the Gilbert area include:
- Agritopia: Located right here in Gilbert, Agritopia offers an interesting take on urban agriculture. Treat your family to products like fresh herbs, summer squash, salad greens, peaches, and so much more.
- Blue Sky Organic Farms: You can’t go wrong with Blue Sky Organic Farms if you’re looking for a CSA with options. An impressive assortment of seasonal produce comes in your pre-selected produce box, and you can pick up your share at the Gilbert Farmers Market.
- Crooked Sky Farms: Crooked Sky Farms is located in Phoenix, but they have a pick-up site at the Gilbert Farmers Market, too. Some popular products include lemon cucumbers, green chiles, and heirloom tomatoes.
- Happy Road Farms: Looking for lettuce? Subscribe to a lettuce box offered by Happy Road Farms. If you don’t mind driving out to Queen Creek to make your Saturday morning pick-up, the living lettuce farm offers another great choice.
2. Check Pick-Up and Delivery Options
CSAs tend to offer multiple places to pick up your boxes. While nearly all offer the home farm as one choice, you’ll typically find at least one other pick-up option. Keep in mind that time windows are pre-determined slots each week, so you can quickly eliminate choices that don’t offer time slots and places compatible with your schedule. Consider how far you’re willing to travel on a regular basis to pick up your goods, and if you’re willing to pay more for home delivery.
3. Consider How Much Choice You Need
Different CSAs will have different ways to disburse the farm’s products to members. With traditional CSAs, the farm decides what goes into each share each week. Free-choice and market-style CSAs allow for some choice and customization to weekly allotments. Some CSAs even allow you to add extras to your main pre-packaged box.
If you like the adventure of having someone pick what you’re eating in a given week, you might go for a pre-packed option. These CSAs can help you discover new foods you never knew you loved by the sheer necessity of having to use unexpected products. However, if you feel choosing your own ingredients is important, you’ll want to look for a CSA that offers a customizable approach.
4. Choose a Share Type That Works For Your Needs
Some CSAs offer only one or two share types, while others let you pull together a wide range of shares. For example, you might see cheese shares, egg shares, beef shares, and much more along with the regular vegetable shares.
You’ll also want to pay close attention to the size of share you’re choosing. If you’re joining a CSA for the first time, you might want to go with the smallest available share size at your chosen CSA to ease into the process and make sure you’re not seeing tons of food go to waste each week. Some CSAs offer options like half-shares; you can also think about joining with a friend or neighbor to split a weekly share if you think you’ll get too much to eat.
That wraps up Crème de la Crème of Gilbert’s guide to finding a CSA box in our area. We hope this helps you understand the process so you can start enjoying the many benefits joining a CSA offers. Maybe you’re already subscribing to a local CSA and have some other tips and tricks to share with families just starting out? Drop us a line with any suggestions or can’t-miss local farms that we should add to this list!