WANTED: Candid Feedback on Your CSAs (Again)

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January 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Last year, as we started putting together our CSA Guide, we asked for your candid feedback on Community Supported Agriculture–you can see what happened last year here. Well, once again, we want to hear what you though about your boxes.  Specifically, we’d like to know:

  • What did you think about the CSA to which you subscribed in 2011?
  • What do/did you want in a CSA?  Did that CSA meet, exceed or fail to meet those expectations?
  • Will you join a CSA in 2012?  Which one, and why?
  • If you are changing CSA’s in 2012, why?

Please feel free to post comments below.  If you’d like to respond privately to the Beet, please do so here.  Private responses will be kept confidential.

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27 Comments

  1. Peggy Riehl says:

    We subscribed to Growing Home in 2011. We loved it, especially that it is a non-profit and has a job training component. In 2012, we will probably have to find another one because Growing Home will not have a delivery on the South side of Chicago.

  2. Stephanie says:

    We really enjoyed our subscription to New Traditions Farm. This was our first year of doing a CSA and we got home delivery. We hoped that joining a CSA would get us eating more vegetables and cooking things outside of our comfort zone, and it satisfied both of those requirements. Thanks Josh et al.!

    • Vicky Anderson says:

      We also loved our share from New Traditions Farm! The tomatoes are great and the food is incredibly fresh. Thanks!

  3. Sarah says:

    I have been subscribed to Cedar Valley for 2 years now and I love it. They make the pick up very easy and you can do every other month, which is nice because it is just my husband and myself. The quality of the product is great and I especially love the eggs!

  4. Heather says:

    We joined Green Grocer Chicago this fall and it was absolutely amazing. I never imagined that we would get so much cool, delicious produce, right through late December. As a bonus, Green Grocer had wine tastings on our pick-up days, so we were always able to taste some really great new varieties while getting our vegetables. They were organized and professional, and they remembered us from week to week. We already signed up for the next round, starting next week.

    • Christina says:

      We also subscribed to Green Grocer for Spring/Summer and Fall. The location, size and price were perfect for the two of us, and we liked that there was fruit included for such a small share. It encouraged us to eat more produce in terms of quantity and variety. Cassie was very accommodating when fruit spoiled too soon. I also liked the variety and flexible pick up days and times.

      The only downside was the lack of variety at times, and there are some staple Midwestern crops that I would’ve liked to see more of – like corn and cherries.

  5. Liz says:

    I subscribed to Scotch Hill Farm for a vegetable share with a friend, and 95% loved it. Pickup was right in our neighborhood and very simple. The other 5% was just me not being a lettuce/salad fiend (the early spring shares were mostly lettuce), but other than that I loved having the happy problem of too much bounty to go around. The only thing is that I would actually prefer a bi-weekly pickup! Even split between two households, a full share was often too much to deal with in one week, especially towards the end of summer. I’ll be subscribing again this season.

    I also signed up for a 3-month trial run to Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm’s meat CSA and doubly love that. The quality of what they deliver is just incredible, and with two people in our household, a monthly share is easily stretched into 2 months (you’re not going to be cooking every single night). I love that they give you that option to make your monthly share into a bi-monthly pickup, which stretches your dollar too). A great variety of meats and has gotten me a lot more creative in the kitchen – definitely going to be subscribing beyond my trial run!

  6. Debbie says:

    I’ve been a member with Cedar Valley since they started doing CSAs, which has been several years now & I’m hooked. What I like about them is they are extremely professional and you know you are always getting high quality at a fair price. I’ve bought meat elsewhere by local providers and I haven’t been as satisfied – either the portions seem small for the cost, or the quality isn’t the same. I’ve bought from some vendors (not a CSA) who frankly seem scatterbrained and have lost credit card information (which has happened to me twice). Like Sarah above says, they are really flexible about working with you on deliveries – whether it is frequency or content. I can’t say enough good things about them.

    • As a farmer in the area myself, here’s a quick nod to Cedar Valley (Meat) CSA. Jody and Beth really try to “rally the troops” and build a supportive community for us small farmers. They are great!

  7. kristen says:

    We have gotten our csa from harvest moon going on 3 years now. I cannot say enough about them. Their product is second to none. We do a full share and eggs. I haven’t done meat and cheese in awhile but plan on it again this summer. What makes the biggest difference, in my opinion, is that harvest moon provides copious recipes and storage ideas to prevent wasting your vegetables. Bob and Jen operate their farm with so much passion and integrity that you literally taste it in the food. Not the cheapest csa, but you get what you pay for here. They are truly organic (which isnt true for all csas). Their boxes are so well organized, everything is washed when possible, and again, their storage tips and recipes actually save you money in the end. I would highly recommend harvest moon to anyone.

  8. Maureen Gainer says:

    HARVEST MOON (harvestmoodorganics.com) is by far the most well-organized CSA in the Chicago market. It’s our third year of Harvest Moon and hopefully they’ll be around for the long haul! We were in 2 other CSA’s that while well-intentioned, were not as well run and lacked the quality of Harvest Moon. Also- they are certified organic which matters. I know that not all small producers can get certified but when they aren’t you have to trust they aren’t using harmful sprays which isn’t something I’m willing to do.
    They also work closely with their community and neighbors which leads to us getting other product (meats, chesses, amazign strawberries, etc) through their relationships.
    Recipies and storage tips can’t be beat- awesome website as well!

  9. Nora says:

    HARVEST MOON has been our partner in raising our family on organic produce and eggs going into our third year now. We were drawn to them because of their owners, Bobby and Jen who are genuinely interested in feedback and making their CSA meet their customer’s needs. They have created a community and expose us not to just organic, amazing produce, but the way to use it, other products that we need (like eggs and cheese and now meat) and are always full of interesting tips and ideas. We have such respect for their work and their company that we are now partnering with them on our new farm to fork restaurant (www.farmhousechicago.com) using their produce and will be a new CSA drop off for them this summer.

  10. Victoria says:

    We actually used two CSA’s this year. We got a half share from Bob’s Fresh and Local which was as delicious as it had been the previous year. The only downside was the pickup time/location for the weekend pick-up was inconvenient and for some reason the scent of the fresh produce was missing after it had been in the coolers. Missed that.

    This fall/winter we tried Genesis Growers half share and egg share. The pick up location was perfect – 4 bloks from my house but i wish the delivery was earlier so I could pick it up before work rather than not getting it until almost 7pm (would be bad on a hot day). The produce and eggs were fresh and delicious! We tried kale for the first time ever and it is a new favorite in my house! The apples were amazing. I loved the variety.

    Now for the difficult decision on which CSA to use this coming year!

  11. Aesha says:

    I subscribed for two years to Simply Wisconsin (my first year with them, they were Homegrown Wisconsin). Deb is very responsive and communicative with members, and the newsletter is really a great help (I had never heard of garlic scapes before, and if not for a recipe and information in her newsletter I would have been at a loss for what to do with them). I skipped last year (2011) because I wasn’t cooking enough the year before to have all the vegetables, and so much of it went to waste. I got a reminder email from them a few days ago and I’m looking into it for this year. They offer full (every week) shares, half (bi-weekly) shares, a basic four share, pantry, egg, cheese and deep winter shares. I found the cheese and eggs were too much for me to handle when I had them, so I’ll probably stick simply to produce. Pick-up is convenient to my home, and the price is very reasonable.

    What I look for in a CSA is great produce, and variety, which I’ve been lucky to get with this one. The first few weeks are always a little “boring”, since the season is just beginning, but it’s always so fun to open the box and see what fun things will be in it that week.

    I always look amongst a few to see if I would like to try another, but for any particular reason (no customer service issues, no produce or other dissatisfaction). Sometimes I just like to see what other farms have to offer. I noticed one has specifically a fruit CSA; this one does include fruit from time to time, so it’s truly produce, not just vegetables. I’m pretty sure I’ll be going with Simply Wisconsin again this year.

  12. Judith says:

    For the past number of years, I have to Growing Home. It has a convenient pick-up spot which is always there on time or early and delicious produce. I love the tomatoes but am very excited to try whatever is newly harvested. The farmers predict the next week’s varied supply which contributes to my anticipation of the next CSA. It helps me plan in advance. There is a commitment to fill the box with different types of produce. The alliums (garlic, scopes, shallots) add a special pizzaz and the herbs can be dried or frozen for January.

    What is particularly satisfying is knowing that I am contributing to job training and building community through Growing Home’s unique social enterprise and mission. It gives farm to table an added meaning and makes the produce that much more delicious.

  13. Jamie says:

    We were with Tomato Mountain Farm for the second half of 2011 and loved it. The quality was excellent–amazing tomatoes, of course, and greens that were able to store for over a week if needed. Home delivery is a huge plus for me and their customer service was so accommodating that we were able to change our share size after a few weeks to a size that worked better for our family. Looking forward to another great year of veggies in 2012!

  14. Lauren says:

    I’m looking to join a meat CSA for the first time this year. Thanks for this post and all of the comments. I would make one suggestion to folks – when commenting, it would be helpful to state clearly at the beginning of your comment which type of CSA you joined – meat/produce/etc. Thanks!

  15. Lori says:

    2011 is the first year that I have used a CSA. I read a lot of online reviews, looked at the schedules for pickup, etc. and decided on Pleasants Plot. I only wanted a half share the first year and most CSA companies will only let you buy a full share. They were awesome! Julia and Todd are great to work with. I loved getting different vegetables than I usually buy and see at the grocery store. I love that they give us a little note telling us what we are getting in the order and recipes if it’s something unusual.

    I learned a lot last year. I have already paid for 2012 and am looking forward to fresh veggies every week. I only wish that I could get them all year round. If they don’t have it, I can get (unfortunately non organic) from all of the other venders at the Farmers Market.

    • Lori, thanks! The tendency to think of us as “pleasant” is hard to resist, I know, but we are missing the distinguishing consonant so are more simply “peasant.” yours, Julia

  16. Ana says:

    We’ve been members of the Peasant’s Plot veggie CSA (peasantsplot.com) for 2 years and are going into our 3rd year with them. That should tell you something! We received a nice variety of local organic vegetables every week from June to October and even with the terrible weather last year, they made all 20 deliveries. They provide several convenient delivery locations throughout Chicago and post delicious recipes on their website for the veggies that they grow. We’re now huge fans of kale chips! Julia and Todd are very sweet people and easy to talk to if you have any questions or feedback. I highly recommend them.

  17. Tina Beacock says:

    Have been with PEASANTS PLOT CSA for two years — I love its convenient pick-up place (Lincoln Square for me), the the freshness of the produce. The share some weeks was a bit sparce, but I loved what there was, and Julia’s recipes!

  18. Jessie says:

    Peasants’ Plot (organic produce) worked great for us last summer and we are looking forward to another season! We loved the weekly pickup in Lincoln Square and they do other pickups at other neighborhood spots too. We had more than enough and made baby food all summer!

    • Matt says:

      We did Peasant’s Plot last year and it was awesome. Each week we tried new things and figured out ways to work veggies into our diets in a much bigger way than we otherwise would have.

      We only got half the season because we ended up moving in the midst of a very chaotic summer. If we still lived in the city we’d do it again in a heartbeat. Pick up at LS was easy and very convenient even those days when there was a big hurry to get in and out.

      I’m looking at farms that drop off in whe Wheaton area now and have fruit and veggies combined anyone got any leads?

  19. Andy says:

    Peasant’s Plot is awesome! Great farmers who are organized, friendly, and super knowledgeable. We had more than enough each week for the two of us. Easy pickup as well. Also, Julia included recipes and little info sheets that I looked forward to each week. We are definitley signing up again for another season!

  20. Jeff Lawrence says:

    I have subscribed to the New Traditions Farm CSA for two seasons now. Both years, it was a delightful and scrumptious experience. I’m on board for year three. It’s getting better and better.

  21. Andrew Jodeit says:

    New Traditons Farm is great! The diversity of vegetables was excellent and we really appreciated the delivery service. Belonging to a CSA really forced me to be resourceful in the kitchen and I am grateful for it. This our second year of subscription and we strongly recommend them!

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