CSA consists of a community of individuals who support a farm operation where the growers and consumers provide mutual support and share the risks and benefits of food production. The members are "share-holders" of the farm and pay in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation. In return, they receive shares in the farm's bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land and participating directly in food production.
Our 2015-2016 CSA season was a blast! Last year´s members are already signing up for this coming season and looking forward to receiving fresh local organic veggies every week again. CSA is an alternative mode of food-shopping, although it is fun and rewarding, it´s not for everyone. Here is a handy list of pros and cons of being a CSA member to help you decide if it may be for you:
Pro: You're supporting a specific local farm sans middleman.
You have a window into a growing season for a small, family-run farm business. You are welcome to visit the farm and encouraged to get to know your farmers. Your contribution means a lot to the farm's financial security, which can be so fragile and vulnerable to chance (weather conditions, etc.). By paying up front, you're ensuring them sales throughout the season.
Con: You're limited to that farm.
And what if that farm gets tomato blight? Or seems to have a problem with small insects biting holes in Swiss chard leaves? Maybe you just don't care for their bumper crop of eggplant, or wish there were more cucumbers. Your weekly share includes what´s available on the farm, some weeks there may be lost of tomatoes and another just a few. In Rancho Buen Día we try to balance the vegetables members receive each week and strive to provide variety and consistency when needed.
Pro: The food is fresh.
This is farm-to-table food in realtime: we harvest one day before or early the day-of pickup, as soon as the growing season starts. Your leafy greens will stay fresh longer, because they're fresher to begin with; tomatoes and veggies can be picked once they're ripe and at peak flavor, because they're getting to you right away. Also, we don’t use chemicals that many commercial farmers use to make vegetables last longer in transportation.
Con: You must be ready to use it.
Do you ever stash away perishables in your fridge and forget about them? If you don't eat your shares within a week, you'll be backlogged with stashes of stuff sooner than you know - and some will get wasted. Joining a CSA is great ways to cook more, plus you´ll regularly receive recipies relating to the contents of your share. If you are going to be away for a week or are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of food you can: split a share with a friend, and alternate weeks to pick up; use a juicer; or our personal favourite, entertain more!
Pro: It's inexpensive.
Each share works out to be $146 (basic) or $271 (family) a week, if you were to purchase the same items in a farmers market it would quickly add up to more $$$.
Con: You have to spend it all at once.
To sign up as a member you pay for the entire season in advance. You might miss a pickup here and there. Unfortunately, there is no refund for missed weeks at most CSAs, so if your schedule is unpredictable, you could lose out a lot. Appoint a neighbor or friend to take produce in your place, especially if you're away on vacation - they don't have to show ID to eat your food. They'll owe you a drink - or dinner party - next time.
Pro: It's interactive.
There's also the opportunity to be more involved, like visiting the farm, sharing photos of your farm-to-fork meals on the facebook page, organizing a group potluck, suggesting improvements to pickup, etc. These are unique advantages if you're interested in being more active in a good food cause, and you'll get to chat with your neighbours and meet many of them during pick-up times.
Pro: There are fun surprises.
Do you delight in coming across heirloom produce that you never even knew existed? Do you want to brag about your crazy looking Romanesco and other exotica that you can't really find in conventional grocery stores? Or just enjoy produce that’s not readily available such as brussels sprouts, variety of fresh eggplant, herbs etc.? Joining our CSA is a fun way to enjoy all those things. You won't always know what foods the season will bring you, and that's exciting, especially when something that you might never have been compelled to buy before becomes a new favorite in your kitchen. It happens all the time ;)
Con: It's unexpected.
Playing Iron chef week by week is not for everyone. What do I do with napa cabbage? How am I supposed to use up all these chiogga beets? We try to help our members out sending emails with the produce included in the share plus a recipe or two.
Being a CSA member is a fun and rewarding experience. The best way of knowing if it´s for you is by giving it a try!
Rancho Buen Día is an organic farm located in Todos Santos, BCS. We specialize in Community Supported Agricultre and deliver to Los Cabos and La Paz. For more information or to talk directly with us and ask any questions you may have feel free to call Lope: 612-131-0326 (don’t worry, he´s fluent in English and Spanish) or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org