2009 CSA Guide

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March 20, 2009 at 10:45 am

Michael Morowitz

One of the easiest ways to jump-start your year in local eating is to purchase an advance subscription to a CSA, or Community-Supported Agriculture program. When you purchase a membership, you are pre-paying for a regular delivery of a farm’s harvest.

So, what is it like to belong to a CSA? Check out the “anatomy” of a 2008 Homegrown Wisconsin half-share.


Do you have experience with a specific CSA? Tell us about it in the forums!

Some of the benefits of CSA memberships:

  • Regular deliveries of fresh (often organic) local produce.
  • Pre-purchasing locks in your food cost ahead of time. Early sign-ups often get a discount.
  • Farm-to-table deliveries guarantee produce at its peak flavor.
  • Many CSAs offer the ability to get to know the people and farms behind your food.
  • Many CSAs offer recipes, storage tips, and other information about the food you’re eating.
  • and all the benefits of eating locally.

So how do I choose which CSA is right for me?

It’s important to decide what features are most important to you.  Price, delivery location, delivery/pick-up hours, size of delivery (half-shares?) variety of produce, organic produce, access to the farm/farmers are all things you should think about when evaluating a CSA.  Every CSA has a coordinator who will be happy to answer your questions.

Also, don’t be afraid to sign up if you are part of a small (or even single-person) household.  Split a share with a friend or neighbor!

Below are a number of CSAs and similar programs that represent a good cross-section of different ways to get farm-fresh food to your home. We’ve included an extended list at the bottom of the page to help your further research.


Angelic Organics

Fresh produce raised using a biodynamic approach to organic farming.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: Choice of either a 20-week vegetable share from mid June through late October or a 12-week share from mid August to late October. Fruit shares are available separately.

What you can expect to get: A balanced selection of 12 to 16 different items each week. The website has a detailed calendar of vegetable arrival times so customers can see what to expect.

Pickup locations: At least a dozen city locations including north and south side options, plus over a dozen suburban locations.

How to sign up or get more information: http://www.angelicorganics.com


Cedar Valley Farm

Ottawa, IL farm raising animals without drugs or hormones, in a healthy and sustainable environment.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: You sign up anytime for 3 month, 6 month, or full year shares. Deliveries are monthly.

What you can expect to get: Various cuts of beef, pork, and chicken, plus two dozen eggs per month.

Pickup locations: Several north side Chicago neighborhoods, plus Naperville, Oak Park, and Oak Lawn.

How to sign up or get more information: www.cedarvalleysustainable.com. Or email cdrvalleyfarm@gmail.com


Genesis Growers

20 acres in fertile north-central Illinois using natural methods: no pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizer.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: April through December. Plans are available for Spring, Summer and Fall. Discount given for early enrollment.

What you can expect to get: Seasonal vegetables rounded out with in-season fruits and herbs. Egg shares are available for separate purchase.

Pickup locations: Several locations on Chicago’s northside as well as Hyde Park. Suburban locations include Forest Park, Highland Park, Mokena, Oak Lawn, Oak Park, Park Forest, Arlington Heights, Skokie and Wheaton.

How to sign up or get more information: www.genesis-growers.com/howtobuy.htm or email info@genesis-growers.com


Growing Power

A community-based urban farm that started in Milwaukee and is now a cooperative including other urban farms in the region.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: This “Market Basket” program works a little differently than a CSA. You place an order by Monday at 5:00p.m. for a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday pickup. You can do this any time you like, with no seasonal commitment.

What you can expect to get: Late season produce including greens, root vegetables, and seasonal fruit. In the colder months, not all items will come from the coop’s local farms, and your bag may be supplemented with non-local products from small business wholesalers such as Goodness Greenness.

Pickup locations: Delivering to neighborhood sites in Beverly, Bronzeville, Englewood, Humboldt Park, West Garfield Park, Lakeview, Logan Square, Oak Park, and Wicker Park. You can also coordinate your own pickup by recruiting at least ten orders. Information on how can be found here: http://www.growingpower.org/market_baskets.htm

How to sign up or get more information: http://www.growingpower.org/market_baskets.htm or call 773.347.1374 to leave a message on the hot-line. You can also email the market basket coordinator at chicagomarketbasket@growingpower.org.


Home Grown Wisconsin

A cooperative of 20+ family farms in Southeastern and South-Central Wisconsin. Certified organic.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: 20 weeks, running from June 17th to October 28. Offering full shares (every week) or half shares (every other week). Egg shares and cheese shares also available for a separate fee.

What you can expect to get: A wide variety of produce options that could include leafy greens, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, fruit(when available), summer squash, peppers and beans. Specialty items such as fruit butters and honey are often included. Cheese shares include seasonal raw cheddar, mozzarella, muenster, and more.

Pickup locations: Several pickup locations on Chicago’s north side, plus locations in Northbrook, Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Bluff and Prospect Heights.

How to sign up or get more information: www.homegrownwisconsin.com/csa.htm or call Katrina Pine at 608-333-1227.


Sweet Earth Organic Farm

120 acres in Southwestern, WI farmed by Renee Randall, an organic farmer since 1974.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: 20 weeks, beginning in late June. Offering full shares or partial shares.

What you can expect to get: The usual produce options with an affinity for heirloom tomatoes in many varieties.

Pickup locations: Arlington Heights, Elgin, Northbrook, Evanston, plus four city locations.

How to sign up or get more information: sweetearthorganicfarm.com or email greener@mhtc.net.


Wellhausen Farm

Family farm located in a small Southwestern Wisconsin dairy town, with a business office in Wheaton, IL. Everything is grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, insecticides or herbicides.

Length of season/ # of deliveries: Starts in mid-June and lasts approximately 22 weeks. Delivered to your home weekly. Half shares also available. Meat, egg and cheese also available.

What you can expect to get: A typical delivery could include, tomatoes, cabbage, green beans, sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers and spinach.

Pickup locations: Delivery route includes Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn, Roselle, West Chicago, Wheaton, Naperville, Lombard, and Villa Park at this time. Members also have the option to pick up at the business office in Wheaton.

How to sign up or get more information: www.wellhausengroup.com or e-mail thefarm@wellhausengroup.com


Additional CSAs and fresh produce delivery options

Harvest Moon Organics: Offering two different kinds of boxes at drop-off locations on the north side of Chicago and Barrington. Visit their CSA page for more information.

Erewhon Farm: Vegetable shares available for pickup at the Elburn, IL farm or for delivery to Lombard, Wheaton, and Elgin. Two-week trial shares available. http://www.erehwonfarm.com/csa.html

Sandhill Organics: Fruit and vegetable shares available delivered to drop-off points around the north and western Chicago suburbs. http://www.sandhillorganics.com/

Broad Branch Farm: Offering vegetables, meat and eggs. www.broadbranchfarm.com

Creme de la Crop: Offering “Standard market” and “Epicurean” shares. 2009 Early bird discount available. www.cremedelacrop.com

Gibbs Family Garden: Plymouth, WI farm offering pickup in River Forest. www.gibbsfamilygarden.com

Green Earth Institute: South Naperville farm offering pick-up only. www.greenearthinstitute.org

Green Earth Farm: Richmond, IL farm offering vegetables, chicken, duck and eggs. Requires pick-up at the farm. www.greenearthfarm.org

Grass Is Greener Gardens: Offering 6-month subscriptions – next signup in February 2009. Options include lamb, chicken, eggs, yogurt and honey. www.grassisgreenergardens.com

Growing Home: CSA shares support Growing Home’s transitional job training program. www.growinghomeinc.org

Irv & Shelly’s Fresh Picks: Year-round home delivery of local and organic produce, meat, dairy and eggs. No subscription required. www.freshpicks.com

King’s Hill Farm: Pickup site at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe. www.kingshillfarm.com

M’s Organic Farm: Woodstock, IL farm offering produce, eggs, herbs and granola. www.msorganicfarm.com

Mike & Clare’s Farm: Currently searching for farm land for 2009 season. www.mikeandclares.com

Mother Earth Organic Farm: Female-owned and operated farm. CSA shares require farm involvement. www.localharvest.org/farms/M10105

New Leaf Natural Grocery: Produce boxes available year-round for delivery. www.newleafnatural.net

Peasant’s Plot: Become a founding CSA member in 2009. Worker share program available. www.peasantsplot.com

Scotch Hill Farm: 20-week CSA from southern Wisconsin that also offers a 10-week flower share. Discounted price before March 15th. www.scotchhillfarm.com

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4 Comments

  1. Jen says:

    This is terrific! We don’t know of any of our friends who are part of a CSA, so this list was quite helpful.

    Thanks.

  2. Maureen says:

    Thank you so much for assembling this list. We have been looking for a new CSA after we moved to Evanston last year. Now we have several to choose from! I can’t wait for Spring.

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