1) What is a market CSA?
A CSA is a gathering of people around a farm or farmer to support the operation and get local fresh food. CSA styles are different from farm to farm and very diverse. A “market style” is unique in that you come to a location where the produce is on display and you gather the items you want for your family. The Farm of Minnesota is changing to this style of CSA to allow us to improve our harvest, post handling, and giving our customer a better opportunity to choice the items they want to have in their boxes.
2) When does the CSA share season start?
We are beginning year a round production. The 2016-17 winter is our first official winter of production. We have grown some things in years past through the winter but this will be our first attempt at being ready with produce regularly. Your CSA share can start any time. We need after 5 business days after we receive your payment as a minimum to get started. The start date is completely up to you. Premiums to spending account will differ with the different seasons based on competition for items in that season.
3) What is a spending account?
A spending account is an accounting of the money you have available for your CSA share. Each week you will come and pick up produce and items for your home. Each week there will be a form to fill out with what we put in your share. The next week the new sheet will have the new balance amount. If an account is getting low and we are past 8 weeks from starting the account, additional funds can be added for an additional eight time frame. The account balance is a combination of the money you send in and the premium the farm added to the account. This premium gives you a discount at the market for the items that are available for those who did not join the CSA. The weekly offerings of recommended CSA items will be additionally discounted for additional savings.
4) What sorts of fruits and vegetables should I expect?
CSA’s provide you with a seasonal selection of produce. Because supermarkets source their goods from around the country and around the world, many families aren’t used to eating seasonally for their area.
Through the winter there will be micro greens, sprouts, and cool season greens. The spring season is typically the start of more diverse salad greens, asparagus, radishes, peas, etc. Summer will bring beets, carrots, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, etc. As the season transitions, you can expect the addition of heavier items like squashes, pumpkins, and the beginning back to greens and salad makings. The availability of strawberries, elderberries, and apples will sprinkle in throughout the season. The exact weekly selection will depend a great deal upon growing conditions that year, but our goal is to have many different varieties of produce throughout the season, as a large variety ensures great selections each week for your CSA box. A weekly communication with a suggested items list for the CSA box.
5) Will I still need to buy vegetables at the store?
That will depend upon your eating habits. Those who typically eat very few vegetables and fruits should find the particular produce for that weeks menu. Those who eat nothing but vegetables may not be able to get enough from one day of picking up a share. If you are looking for items out of the local season – there are a few crops we do not have the space to grow, may be needed at your local store to supplement your CSA share. Based on our customer feedback, most of our shareholders getting prepacked boxes got more than expected in their CSA boxes and some of the food went to waste. A CSA is a place to try new items that may not normally get purchased at the store.
6) Can I choose what I get in my CSA box each week?
Yes to a point. The selection every week is based upon what is ready for harvest. There is no guarantee that any one produce item will be available each week. Shares will are sized only by the dollars in your account. We always encourage you to be brave and try new vegetables, something new is a taste away from becoming your next favorite food. Ask us before you select something new and we can help with recipe ideas. We offer many color, variety, and unique items for improving the nutritional value of each meal.
7) Can I get a group of people together to collectively purchase a share?
Absolutely! Many of our customers go in on shares together. The market CSA will still be able to handle gathering people to share the share. The main difference is in the fact that there will be a limited number of shares available for any given season. Coming together in a group may be a chance to get into the joy of joining a CSA. This is a great way to access organically grown local produce. The accounting of the share is in dollar values only so have good communication between the group to ensure everyone gets their portion of the share. Contact Us if you have special payment questions.
8) Are there any risks with a CSA?
In a CSA, members share in both the risk and the reward of the farm. If we experience catastrophic weather and a particular crop falls short or fails entirely, then we can’t pass that produce on to you. We’ve been farming for many years, and have developed season extenders and weather protectors, so we make every effort to mitigate those situations, but acts of God are out of our control! Also in those events, our large and diverse variety of produce allows us to shift focus to other vegetables to help fill in selections for that week. We consider our members part of our family; remember, “…if it is not good enough for us to eat, we won’t make it available for you.”
The opposite is also true, however. If conditions exceed our expectation and we have an abundant harvest, then we can pass some of that on to you. In a CSA, you have a stake in the farm, and we’d like to think that food you helped make possible always tastes a little better!
9) Can I visit The Farm?
Absolutely! We encourage every member to visit the farm at least once per season. As a member, you help to make it possible to farm, so we want you to come, see, and touch what you are a part of. We encourage you to call ahead so that we can plan our day around your visit. Ask for information about or keep your ears open for Open Houses and other great opportunities to connect with The Farm!
10) What are the main benefits of CSA’s and The Farm of Minnesota?
- Organically grown produce (Organic certification as of 2014)
- Locally grown and freshly harvested means more vitamins and key nutrients are retained on the way to your plate, versus buying non-local produce at the store
- The chance to see and participate in where your food comes from
- Wide variety of produce gives you the chance to try new things
- Weekly newsletter with Farm updates, in depth information on that week’s highlighted produce, and recipes
- The Farm of Minnesota’s passion to improve the nutrient value of the food you get
- Your dollars supporting local people and the local economy
- Your dollars supporting sustainable land use
11) What size share do I need?
We have created a sliding price scale to accommodate family budgets. A typical share size is between $200.00 and $600.00. Again this will depend upon your eating habits and you. The share amount sent in creates an account for a minimum of 8 weeks. After 8 weeks the share account is open and can be replenished. If after eight weeks, if there is still money in the account nothing changes. The account is just now open to add more funds if that is your interest. The amount you send in for your share should be for what you believe you are most interested in for a season. If you are new to seasonally grown vegetables, we recommend that you start with a smaller amount. Our Minimum is $200.00. A premium will be added to the account each time payments are received. Multiple season accounts will get larger premium added to their account than single season payments.
12) What happens if I’m not able to pick up my produce or I forget?
If you know that you will be unable to pick up your box due to a planned event, please first enjoy this unexpected happening. Your CSA share is not going anywhere. Your account will not be debited anything for not being able to pick up any produce that week. You can do many things like share your account with a friend or family member. If someone new is going to use your account, please notify us so we can best protect you funds. If someone asks to us an account without notice we will not grant the request. You can also arrange to meet us at a different market that week if your regular day gets to crazy.
If you simply forget to pick up your box, we will miss you that week and look forward to the next meeting.
13) Do I need to return the boxes or bring my own?
Yes, please! Many customers are bringing their own tots or containers. We have heavy-duty waxed produce boxes, which aren’t cheap. They are designed to keep fruits and veggies as fresh as possible. If you need a box we will have them available; a refundable $3.00 charge will be on your account until the box is returned. We recommend one of two things each week:
- Bring cloth grocery bags to collect all you produce in. We will have plastic bags at the markets.
- If you need a box ask us and we will have them available for you to use and return the next week.
When you help us keep unnecessary overhead expenses down, we can direct your investment in The Farm back into improvements or additional varieties of produce that benefit you directly!
14) Can I buy extra produce beyond my CSA share?
Yes. The weekly suggested items for the box list is just the items that will have special CSA pricing. If you notice something special on the table and want that in your box the price will be there. Our previous specialty shares, eggs, value added items, spices, and bulk produce items are all now and still available, we will just talk about them individually.
15) I am planning on growing a garden myself. How does a CSA share fit me?
Many of our customers currently have their own gardens. What they have found is that small gardens tend towards basic staple items due to lack of space. Any staples that are duplicated in the CSA share will provide more meals during the week. In addition to staples, a CSA share also provides items that are not usually found in small gardens, like herbs, berries, and variety of produce.
16) Can I join the CSA mid-season?
This new market style CSA fixes this challenge our former CSA offering previously created. We will have a fixed number of shares available throughout the year. The possible longest wait could be a few weeks. Each account is fixed for eight weeks. As accounts conclude opening for new members become available. This is how we can now offer mid summer joining of our CSA available. The CSA memberships can not be open ended because we still can only grow so much food on the land we have available to us.
17) Can I buy boxes individually or do I need to sign up for the whole season?
Individual CSA pick up days are not available. A CSA spending account is open for 8 weeks with a minimum purchase of $200.00.
18) Can I get a refund once the season starts?
This is a touchy subject, and thankfully one we almost never have to deal with. The short answer is no, and there’s a good reason why. A CSA membership benefits you in many ways, but it also benefits the farmer because we can establish an exact budget on which to plan the season. That means by the time the season starts, we’ve already allocated the funds from our membership fee to the seeds, supplies, equipment, and so forth that will allow that season to come to harvest. While we would sincerely like to accommodate special circumstances, providing a refund would jeopardize the season for all of our members. If you find yourself in an unfortunate circumstance mid-season, contact us to make us aware, and we will recommend that you arrange for someone to take over the remainder of your weekly shares. You will of course want to arrange payment details between yourselves, but we can help you determine the value of those remaining shares.