What is COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE?
The idea of subscription agriculture was born in Japan over 30 years ago, when people there became increasingly concerned about the growing amount of imported food and the decline of local farming. Known in Japanese as "teikei" (meaning "putting the farmer's face on food") the concept took hold in the United States during the mid-1980's as 'Community Supported Agriculture'. It flourished in New England and has become increasingly popular among consumers wanting farm-fresh, locally-grown produce. Today there are well over 1000 active CSAs across the country, many of them supplying organically-grown food.
How does it work? Participants in a CSA farm pay in advance before the start of the season for a share of the farm's harvest. In turn, they receive a portion of farm products each week throughout the growing season. Prepayment gives the small farmer operating capital for the year's production, and helps the farmer plan the planting and harvest schedule. Shareholders not only share the bounty from the farm-- they also share the risk. If there is a crop failure (such as from disease, a hurricane or major freeze), the shareholders agree to take the loss with the farmer.
Here in South Florida, our season lasts about 5 months from approximately mid-November through mid-April (20 deliveries over 22-23 weeks).
As a subscriber of a Community Supported Agriculture farm, you can help support local small farms, boost the local economy, as well as provide your family with healthful, fresh produce.
We are not a supermarket! The vegetables that you find each week in your share are what we are harvesting at that time. You are NOT able to pick and choose as in a market. Part of the commitment is to learn to eat what is in season here in our local area- you will find you become more flexible and adventurous with your cooking and eating habits. Each crop has a preference for certain growing conditions. There are some things that we cannot grow at all, and others that have a very limited season in South Florida. Note that we always have greens- for salads, cooking, or both, and some type of herb(s). And we usually provide an 'extras' box where you can swap one or two items that may be more to your liking, or choose an extra item. The selection changes during the season- at the beginning, you may find predominantly greens and herbs, which mature quickly. Later on, you will find more of the long-season items such as root vegetables (See what's available, when).
The example below gives you an idea of what you might receive in a typical week for a full share versus a half-share. If you need more information, you can visit our newsletter archive to see how the shares vary from week to week. After you've reviewed all the information and checked out our Frequently-Asked Question section, if you still require more information, call 305-247-8650 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We offer a weekly FAMILY share
(previously called a full share), which
usually satisfies the produce needs for a family of 2-4.
We include tips and recipes to help you take advantage of the seasonal vegetables, especially the unfamiliar ones, in the weekly newsletter that comes with your share. Our newsletter archive is accessible online, so you can look up those old newsletter recipes you accidentally threw away!
Payment in advance IS REQUIRED. You can hold your share with a deposit prior to September 1st, and pay the balance due by October 1st. If you sign up early (in July or August), you can pay in 2 or 4 installments. You may pay online or mail in your payment. You will NOT receive a share until you have paid in full, and there is no makeup for a missed share.
*all share prices include a $65 non-refundable administrative fee (cheese & Med shares $15)
PICKING UP YOUR SHARE
Shares are available for pickup on Saturday- the time depends on the pickup site location. Keys shares are delivered Sunday morning.
When you sign up, you can choose to pick up your share at the farm or at a designated pickup site. Our farm is located approximately 3 miles north of Homestead, in the heart of the Redland area near the Fruit & Spice Park. We also have pickup sites in Palmetto Bay, Coral Gables, South Miami, Miami Shores, Miami Lakes, South Broward (east and west), Pompano Beach, Miami Beach and various locations in the Upper, Middle and Lower Keys (click here to see the list). You can choose the location most convenient for you when you sign up.
Pickups at the farm are free. There is a delivery fee for off-farm pickups, to help defray fuel costs.
When you arrive each week to collect your share, you will find a sign-in sheet, share boxes, and newsletters. Sign in and take a newsletter. Make sure you take the correct size box for your share (FAMILY or SMALL), and any share options you've purchased. Please return your box each week so that we can reuse it and keep our costs down.
If you need to skip a week, you can have a friend pick it up for you, or you can donate it. There are no makeups or refunds for missed weeks.
If you would like to volunteer your home or place of business as a designated pickup site, please email us. To be designated as a pickup site, we MUST deliver at least 15 shares there. A site may be almost any place that is accessible and has an air-conditioned space or a shady porch where we can place our coolers and boxes for our members to pick up their shares. You also need to have a place to store the flattened boxes until we swap them out the following week.
TIPS FOR PARTICIPATING
The most common reason given for quitting a CSA is that people cannot use all the vegetables. Be realistic about your family's lifestyle: if you eat out often or use a lot of prepared food, this may not work for you. If you live by yourself and you think a share may be too much produce for your needs, consider splitting with a friend. You can take turns every other week, each take half the items-get creative!
Our customers vary from students to singles to families to retirees. Some are vegetarians, some are vegans, some follow a raw, live foods lifestyle, but most are simply interested in fresh, locally-grown, pesticide-free, flavorful food. For many, this is a new way of cooking and eating. They find that they make more foods (such as pesto) "from scratch". They also are willing to try new foods and ways of preparing them.
If you're not accustomed to using a lot of fresh produce, you will change some things about how you prepare and cook food. To help you make the transition to cooking and eating this way, we recommend getting a good vegetable cookbook. Some of the best are designed for vegetarian lifestyles, but even if you eat meat, you will find great recipes, often for the more uncommon vegetables you're likely to see in our shares (but not at the grocery store). You can also check out your local bookstore, library, or the internet for recipes. And keep an eye out for the recipes in our weekly newsletter - we have a searchable online newsletter archive!
Many CSA programs recommend a salad spinner. Although they are handy for leafy greens, we find the easiest way to clean your veggies is to soak them briefly in a sink full of cold water, swish them around a few times, then drain well in a colander. This is especially useful when the veggies are sandy, or stowaway critters have hitched a ride. But to keep your greens fresh, DON'T wash them until you're ready to use them. And remember to always store your greens in a plastic bag inside your refrigerator's vegetable drawer, not loose on a shelf.
We also recommend that you start a compost pile or bin. You will probably have more vegetable waste than you have had in the past. If you have a yard (even if you only grow plants on a balcony), the best way to use these scraps is to recycle them by making compost that can be used on your plants. You don't need anything fancy-- a small corner in your garden will do. Just be sure that when you put your scraps out, you cover them lightly with a top dressing of soil, and don't forget to add the trimmings every time you cut grass or trim your plants. If you pick up your shares at the farm, and don't want to or cannot keep a compost pile, bring us your veggie trimmings to add to our compost pile, helping us close the cycle of sustainability. Another option is vermicomposting- using worms to compost your trimmings. A properly-maintained vermicompost bin can be kept underneath your sink and will have no odor. The resulting worm castings make a great soil conditioner.
HOW TO SIGN UP
We start planting in September, and will have most of our seeds, supplies and plants ordered by early September. If you want to be assured of a place in our program this season, please apply and pay your deposit early, but no later than September 1st. Your spot is not guaranteed until we have received your deposit, and you must pay in full by October 1st.. No refunds of any kind will be given after November 1st. If you would like to eat farm fresh organic and pesticide-free produce grown here in South Florida, please make your commitment NOW!
NOT IN DADE, BROWARD or MONROE COUNTIES?
One of our own Redland Organics member farms offers a CSA in Southwest Florida! Check out Worden Farm, based in Punta Gorda. The Wordens have partnered with us for several years. They grow and supply a lot of the food in your shares. They are certified organic.
For other CSA locations, check out Local Harvest (localharvest.org). They have an excellent locator resource - simply enter your zip code to find farms, CSAs, markets, restaurants and more near you.
Pikarco ~ Bee Heaven FarmCertified Organic since 1997 FOG/ QCS#0167GP
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