Monday, April 23, 2012

How Frugal is a Farm Share?

I've been making an effort, now that I'm not commuting all the time, to shop more locally.  I've been going to the independently-owned market more often instead of going to Stop & Shop; I've been patronizing local shops that sell goods made by local artists; and now I'm taking the final plunge: I'm getting a farm share.

For anyone who might be unfamiliar with that term, a farm share or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) means that for a pre-determined amount of time (like the summer growing season) you pay up front for a share of vegetables from a local farm.  After paying, you go to the farm weekly and pick up a mess of vegetables that were just plucked from the earth, and then you go home and panic because you have no idea what to do with them--at least that's what I'm predicting will happen for me.

The farm I chose to do a share with, is in Rehoboth, MA, which is about 15 miles from my house.  Once a week, they'll make delivery to Providence and I'll go pick up my stuff.  According to their website, one share will feed "2 avid vegetable lovers, or 4 moderate vegetable lovers with produce for the week."  Since BF is not an avid vegetable lover, and because of my 15+ years as a vegetarian who is mildly afraid if vegetables, I decided to share my share with a friend.  If I still wind up with way too much produce, I'll find people to take it off my hands, or I'll experiment with new methods of food preservation--or I'll just host a lot of potlucks.

The way this particular farm share works, my friend and I pay $400 ($200 each) for vegetables from June-August (13 weeks).  Some other farm shares that I looked into also had an egg or flower component, which sounds awesome.  This one had the flowers, but no eggs, which is what I really wanted (Wee Watson will just eat any flowers that come into the house).  I haven't really been keeping track of what I spend on just produce (I just spent $8 on brussels sprouts, to give you an idea), but it will be interesting to try this for at least a season and see how much food I get, whether it feels like it's worth it and figure out a way to use and enjoy strange new vegetables that I never would have been brave enough to buy on my own. Bok choy, anyone?
Seriously--this frightens me

Each week that I'm doing the farm share, I'll document what  I get, and share any recipes that I come up with.  Here's to a new, vegetable adventure!  Of course, it doesn't start until June, so I'm a bit ahead of myself, but I'm so excited!

Has anyone else ever done a farm share?  What did you think of it?  Admittedly, I picked this place because I liked their name and they deliver to Providence--perhaps I should have done more research?  Any tips are appreciated!


  1. How exciting! I have always wanted to do something like this. My aunt does something similar, but instead of a farm share, she buys a plot of organic space and she is responsible for doing her own growing, weeding, an picking. The land owner takes care of the tough stuff, like getting the plot ready, tilling, etc.

  2. I'm so jealous that you got a farm share, I can't wait to hear how it goes! I do have alternative plans for my summer veggies though!

  3. We did this two years ago. It has its ups and downs. The one we chose ended up being very heavy on veggies we don't use - like tomatillos, rutabega, and lots and lots of beets. We also learned how to can stuff. The greens they sent were absolutely great, but we hardly got any standard veggies like potatoes, onions, tomatoes all summer. It was nice to try new things, but we ended up feeling rather unfulfilled. We're still open to trying with a new place though that doesn't focus so much on odd veggies. This summer, however, I'll be happy walking the two blocks to the farmers market and picking and choosing what to try.

  4. I've thought about trying a CSA for a summer, but never done it because I know I would end up with so much food waste. And all my friends in town are either super picky, bad cooks, or too cheap to go in on one with me.

    As far as dealing with vegetables you're unsure about, I would check Pinterest (if you need an invite let me know) for recipes and maybe even search "kid friendly" so you know the preparation is probably easy and pretty much guaranteed to be tasty. If all else fails, roast it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. That's my go-to way of cooking a vegetable I don't like. *cough*brussels sprouts*cough*

  5. @Elizabeth--excellent point about the oven roasting. It honestly makes every vegetable delicious, except those hateful parsnips.

    I had oven-roasted brussels sprouts for lunch!

  6. I've always wanted to do a CSA, but here the smallest option feeds four. I definitely can't eat 4 people's worth of veggies in one week. I thought about spliting the cost too, but I've been too lazy to ask around.