Get a piece of the farm
CSA: pay now for the summer harvest
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum email@example.com
Even though the state is buried in snow, now is the time to plan ahead for the summer bounty of vegetables and fruits.
Many area farms currently have open enrollment for anyone who wants to participate in their community- supported agriculture programs (CSA). Buy a share now and reap the benefits all summer.
A CSA has customers pay in the winter or spring for a portion of the farm’s harvest. This benefits the farmers because they get money up front to purchase supplies such as seeds, greenhouses, tools, heat and additional labor. In return, customers are guaranteed a weekly supply of fresh-from-the-field locally grown, and probably organic, vegetables and fruits at a stable price. (The weekly size and make-up can vary with the harvest.)
“Customers invest and they get fresh vegetables,” Local Harvest CSA’s member coordinator Elizabeth Obelenus said. “The farmers know who they are growing for and how much they need to grow. It is a sustainable way for a farmer to make a living and be a part of the community.”
“People get to feel connected to a farm and know where their food comes from,” Patrick Connelly of Field to Fork Farm said.
Connelly offers a year-around CSA that provides meat, eggs and dairy products from his farm. The program is so popular that he has only eight shares available this season, and a waiting list to fill those spots. He said people are welcome to add their names to the list, and he does sell individual products from his farm.
Obelenus belongs to the Local Harvest CSA, which is a cooperative of eight small farms. Customers pick up their box of fresh veggies each week at a church in Concord. Some members buy shares that include a weekly loaf of organic bread from Abigail’s Bakery in Weare. This season they have 275 to 300 shares for sale.
Many CSAs offer family-sized full shares and smaller half shares for individuals and couples, and some even offer discounts if you are willing to put in a little work-time at the farm. They are also happy to give customers recipes and storage suggestions for that week’s produce.
Some of the CSAs’ prices increase at the end of March, so customers can benefit by signing up soon. Most of the farms also have farm stands and sell produce at area farmer’s markets. Here is a list of area farms that will offer CSAs this year. An even longer list can be found at www.localharvest.org.
• Tracie’s Community Farm, 72 Jaffrey Road, Fitzwilliam, 209-1851, www.traciesfarm.com: The 17-week season begins mid-June and continues through the beginning of October. Each week’s basket includes washed vegetables and a newsletter explaining how things are going on the farm, how to prepare and store the vegetables, and what to expect in the next week’s basket. A large family share costs $600, a family share $420, and a single share $300. Shares for mesclun, herbs and greens are sold separately. The price of the share includes delivery, and there is a $50 discount if you pick up your basket at the farm.
• Middle Branch Farm, 280 Colburn Road, New Boston, 487-2540: The season is from June through October. A share is designed for a couple or a family with small children. The farm also has pick-your-own herbs, peas, beans and flowers and offers naturally raised pork and beef to share members. Baskets may be picked up at the farm or a satellite location (see details at www.localharvest.org/csa/M6928). Approximately 300 shares are offered each season. A 16-week summer share costs $465. For satellite pick-up, a share costs $485. Prices may increase after April 1.
• New Hampshire CSA, 24 Haverhill Road, Chester, www.nhcsa.com: A full share costs $535, and a half share $285. Members will receive instructions on how to preserve the vegetables to enjoy all winter. Pick-up locations are at the farm, and in Derry and Londonderry. See the Web site for dates and times.
• Field to Fork Farm, 522 Haverhill Road, Chester, 548-4331, www.fieldtoforkfarm.com: This farm offers a year-round meat, eggs and dairy CSA for families who want a regular supply of certified organic eggs, milk and meats (chicken and pork) from pasture-raised and organically fed animals. Additional options include maple syrup and goat meat. Participation at the farm is encouraged but not required. A subscription costs $125 a month, with a required up-front contribution of 1/4 of the yearly subscription fee (three months/$375) to be put toward organic feed and livestock maintenance. Weekly pick-up at the farm.
• Local Harvest CSA, c/o NOFA-NH, 4 Park St., Suite 208, Concord, 731-5955, www.localharvestnh.com: This is a cooperative of eight New Hampshire organic farms that work together to provide share-members with fresh certified organic products. Weekly pick-up is at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Concord. A single share feeds two people, and a family share is for four people (or two hungry vegetarians). The cost is $495 single; $588 single with weekly loaf of bread; $742 family, and $922 family with two loaves of bread weekly.
• Holland Farm CSA, 269 Osgood Road, Milford, 673-0667, www.hollandfarmcsa.com: This year, membership costs $500 for a full membership, which will feed two adults and two or three children. A half membership, enough for two adults, costs $325. Members choose the vegetables they enjoy, but a weekly limit for each vegetable will apply depending on the membership level.
• Lewis Farm, 192 Silk Farm Road, Concord, 228-6230, www.LewisFarmNH.com: Because of the farm’s extensive greenhouse system, the season will begin in May and run through October. Besides vegetables and herbs, the farm will include fruits and other items from other farms. A full share costs $600. If paid in full at sign-up, there is a 10-percent discount. A three-payment plan is also available: $200 at sign-up, $200 by March 20 and $200 by May 20.