Farm-Fresh Local Food: CSAs get flexible with new features like choose-your-own produce, special add-ons and sliding-scale prices.
Education Manager Ellie Limpert in one of three high tunnels at Poughkeepsie Farm Project
When people join a CSA (community supported agriculture) program—paying a local farm up-front for a season-long supply of produce—everybody wins. The farm benefits from the early investment. Members benefit from the nutritious produce (typically fresh picked and chemical free). The local economy benefits, and so does the environment (no toxic pesticides or long-haul trucks).
Buying produce through a CSA can also be cost-effective, especially now that many farms offer flexible plans that allow customers to buy just what they need. Best of all, CSAs build relationships between farmers and the neighbors they feed. CSAs are about community above all else.
Planting season is here, which means CSA signups have begun. Here are a few local farms that offer CSA programs.
Fable: From Farm to Table
Located in historic Ossining, Fable is a farm and food hub dedicated to sustainable agriculture. The farm grows produce using organic practices and has pasture-raised chickens its CSA members can meet and feed.
“We believe that through dedication, hard work and modern technological advancements in agriculture, we can provide the freshest produce all year round without the use of harmful pesticides,” says owner Tom Deacon.
Last year Fable introduced its new CSA Farm Card, “with great reviews,” Deacon says. CSA members purchase a Farm Card that they can spend like cash throughout the year in the farm’s market, choosing their own produce—as much or as little as they’d like—over the course of the growing season. Weekly selections are simply subtracted from their credit balance.
A CSA membership helps support the farm during the colder months, and allows us to prepare for an abundant spring and summer harvest,” Deacon says.
Cost: $250-$1,000 for a CSA Farm Card.
What’s included? With the Farm Card, CSA members can purchase any item in Fable’s Market, including produce, eggs, honey and milk. The market is open on weekends year-round, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fable: From Farm to Table, 1311 Kitchawan Rd., Ossining, NY. Info: FableFoods.com.
Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard
Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, a family-owned and -operated apple orchard in North Salem, grows a variety of stone fruits and vegetables that it sells in its Farm Store and through its CSA. The owners, first-generation farmers, have expanded their harvest every year since opening for business in 2011.
“We are passionate about what we do,” says CSA Manager Todd Stevens. “Simply put, our goal is to supply our community with the freshest produce possible, directly from the farmer.” Harvest Moon grows its food using an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, which means that organic fertilizers and pest controls are used whenever possible. All of Harvest Moon’s produce is planted and harvested by hand.
Cost: $325-$810. Customers can choose between 13-week and 18-week seasons, and half- or full-bushel shares.
What’s included? Produce typically available includes lettuce, chard, spinach, kale, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, melons, peppers, beets, corn, onions, squashes, apples, eggplant and potatoes. Each box includes a dozen farm-fresh eggs, and fresh-pressed sweet cider as available. CSA add-ons include milk, cheese and/or beef shares. A flower add-on includes a fresh, farm-grown bouquet every week for 12 weeks.
Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, 130 Hardscrabble Rd., North Salem, NY. Info: 914.485.1210, HarvestMoonFarmAndOrchard.com.
Poughkeepsie Farm Project
Poughkeepsie Farm Project—a 12-acre organic farm whose produce is Certified Naturally Grown—has been connecting food, farm and community for 20 years.
“Not only are we a CSA operating on an urban farm, but we also annually donate 20 percent of our harvest to emergency food providers in the Hudson Valley,” says Ray Armater, executive director. “So in addition to supporting local, small-scale farming, our CSA members are also supporting the organization’s greater mission in the region.”
The farm’s flexible CSA model allows members to select their share size and the items in their share. They can also work with the farm crew for a discounted share, and go out into the fields to pick their own flowers, berries, cherry tomatoes, herbs, hot peppers and other produce. “Pick-your-own allows members and their families to engage with the farm, and it’s a great way for kids to get hands-on with helping to harvest and taste,” Armater says.
The CSA is unique in the amount of flexibility and choice it offers while still staying true to a traditional CSA model, he adds. Members can select 5 or 10 items from a choice of 14 to 20 different items each week. Produce is arranged farmers market-style, and is always harvested fresh and at peak ripeness for maximum nutrition and flavor.
Cost: $445-$885 for a weekly whole or half share (generally 12 to 18 pounds) for a 23-week season. Discounts for work share option.
What’s included? Produce throughout the season, with fruit shares available July through November and the option to purchase locally raised, grass-fed beef from Back Paddock Farm.
Poughkeepsie Farm Project, 51 Vassar Farm Ln., Poughkeepsie, NY. Info: 845.516.1100, FarmProject.org.
CSA members at Ryder Farm, in Brewster, are helping support one of the oldest organic farms on the East Coast, as well as the larger mission of SPACE on Ryder Farm, a residency program for artists and activists. SPACE, which now oversees farm operations, will host a special “happy hour” pickup party for the first pickup of each month at the farm, where CSA members can mingle with each other and SPACE’s resident artists. A new, sliding-scale CSA has been introduced to ensure memberships are accessible to everyone in the community.
“We recognize that not everyone has access to the monetary resources to receive good, fresh food, but together with our CSA members, we have the capacity to make this possible,” says Farm Manager Doug DeCandia. “So starting this year, with our sliding scale membership, folks who can pay more do, while folks who cannot, pay what they can.”
Cost: $320-$1,150 for weekly or every other week shares, which can be picked up at Ryder Farm or in New York City. Sliding-scale price options available.
What’s included? Organic herbs and vegetables “from A to Z,” plus art created by friends and alumni of SPACE’s artist residency programs. (Read more about SPACE and Ryder Farm on page 26.)
Ryder Farm, 406 Starr Ridge Rd., Brewster, NY. Info: 646.833.8159, SpaceOnRyderFarm.org/farm.