Joining a CSA - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have all the info and prices to join a CSA that starts in May and goes until Dec.

I know all the good reasons to do this and it is a bit of cash upfront which we have but I need some of you mamas who have done this:

Was it too much or too little veggies?
Was it worth the price?
Would you do it again?
If not, did you miss it afterwards?
If yes, why??

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#2 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 04:00 PM
 
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Was it too much or too little veggies?
Too little of some things (the carrot crop was ruined by a frost, not enough beets this year, more tomatoes than we could possibly eat, etc.) It all depends on the season, and your tastes. The first summer my friend and I did it, we got lots of our favorite things and not as much of our less favorites, so we were a little disappointed when it went the other way this season.

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Was it worth the price?
Even with the waste we had :, it was still worth the price. It was roughly equivalent to what I would have spent on organic veggies anyway.

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Would you do it again?
If not, did you miss it afterwards?
If yes, why??
Hmmm, I don't know. The problem we had was this: The first season we did this, two summers ago, my older DD was eating veggies like MAD. She'd eat anything and everything, so it was easy to use most of what we got. The summer we didn't do it (I was huge and pregnant and working), my friend and I totally missed it, because it was so much fun going to the farm to pick (strawberries, blackberries, herbs and flowers), we loved meeting at the park to split the box, my older DD was still eating a wide variety of veggies, and so on. So this past summer rolled around and we signed up immediately. Well, with two kids, it became a bigger burden to go get the box every week from the delivery site and take the time to split it up. The farm was far to go picking with a baby in tow (even in the Kozy ), and my older DD decided she was only eating corn on the cob (which the farm doesn't grow) and broccoli (which we got very little of). My DH works pretty long hours, and with me working too, it was just really hard to use most of what we got. We also got a lot of stuff I had no experience cooking with, and I just didn't have the time to search down kid-friendly recipes for it. For example, I cooked cabbage a few different ways and I was the only one who ate it every time : I had no idea what the heck to do with the rutabagas

Anyway, that's my experience. I loved being a part of it. If the drop site was closer to me, I'd consider doing it without my friend, but it would also be a little more expensive that way. The toddler is the veggie queen now, and I'm hoping to quit my job in June, so if that pans out, I might do it again. Otherwise, it could be very draining, and mega-guilt-inducing if you waste a lot of perfectly good veggies, KWIM?

ETA: I will say it did save me going to the grocery store quite a bit though, when we already had so much produce in the house. Though if I could find a co-op that offered the same kind of variety of fruit, I'd TOTALLY be into that

HTH!

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#3 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 04:08 PM
 
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I'm thinking about joining one this year, too.
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#4 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 05:34 PM
 
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We've done it for three years--whether there's too much or not enough depends on what farm you're with, what you like to eat, and whether you split your share with anyone else. You might ask others who have shares with the farm you're considering.

I love the fact that we eat in season (and have enough to freeze and put up, even sharing it with another family), support a local farmer, and don't truck in the food.

We'll do it again this year.
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#5 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 06:23 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
I have all the info and prices to join a CSA that starts in May and goes until Dec.

I know all the good reasons to do this and it is a bit of cash upfront which we have but I need some of you mamas who have done this:

Was it too much or too little veggies?
Was it worth the price?
Would you do it again?
If not, did you miss it afterwards?
If yes, why??

Too little veggies.
It was NOT worth the price.
I would NOT do it again, and we did not miss it. I could have bought a LOT more veggies with that 250 at a farmers market or grocery store.

Ours were for heirloom, organic varieties. When it was all said and done, we used very little of it. The quality was not very good, things were split, overripe, etc. And small! I know that they were supposed to be small because of the heirloom variety, but you would think that they would give us two squashes instead of one, ykwim?

We later found out that the people who picked up their CSA at the farm were allowed to take home more veggies and fruit. Ours were delivered (we paid a fee) and they never gave us any extras.

I know that not everyone runs their CSA like this, but it was so disappointing.
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#6 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 07:59 PM
 
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Was it too much or too little veggies?
Too few...we supplement with a trip to the farmer's market.

Was it worth the price?
Most definitely.

Would you do it again?
Yes.

If not, did you miss it afterwards?
If yes, why??
I'm supporting a local, sustainable farm. The produce is fresh and organic. I prefer to eat seasonal produce. It is a link to other local foods.

Edited to add: I've belonged to two different CSAs...and from my limited experience, I'd say that all are different. But there are some common themes.
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#7 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 08:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
I have all the info and prices to join a CSA that starts in May and goes until Dec.

I know all the good reasons to do this and it is a bit of cash upfront which we have but I need some of you mamas who have done this:

Was it too much or too little veggies?
Was it worth the price?
Would you do it again?
If not, did you miss it afterwards?
If yes, why??
We did it for the first time this past summer and totally LOVED it!

We had a half share for two adults (one pregnant) and one 2yo. It was a bit too much for us and we wasted some but I think that was partially due to circumstances rather than quantity.

Circumstances:
We weren't prepared for the quantity and didn't plan for it very well as far as figuring out recipes to use them in.
Being (very) pregnant I didn't have a whole lot of energy for preparing meals so we ate out a lot.
We didn't have much freezer space at the time so I couldn't store much of it.

How we've remedied it:
Now have a good idea of quantity and will plan accordingly.
Bought the CSA's cookbook that has recipes arranged seasonally.
Looked through my other cookbooks for useful recipes.
Asked friends who are "into" cooking for good recipes.
Gave birth
DS2 will be starting solids in time for the start of the season and I will be making his food.
We got a chest freezer for Christmas from my parents (we asked for it).
I will be doing lots of canning and freezing.

It was totally worth the price since we buy organic already at our local grocery store. We spent the same amount of money and got better tasting, local produce rather than so-so, imported produce.

We would TOTALLY do it again and definately will be.

Aside from the taste, reasons we will do it again:
It's local. Extremely so - the farm is a 5 minute drive from our house.
All the associated environmental goodness with buying local.
We heard that eating locally grown food helps with allergies.
We are supporting people who live in our community.
We are supporting small scale farmers.
We made the pick up into a family outing on a Friday afternoon which was lots of fun.
DS1 (2yo) got lots of exercise running around the grounds.
The farm trains tonnes of interns who will go on to spread good farming practices elsewhere.
The farm is on the grounds of a Jesuit retreat that was fighting the construction of a Walmart right next to it - it felt good to support them.

I think that is all I have to say about the CSA we participated in. As you can tell, we totally loved it and won't hesitate to continue.

Oh, and we did have some disappointments such as the loss of the apple crop (the farm is known for its' apples) but it still didn't deter us from being enthusiastic about signing up again.
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#8 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 09:40 PM
 
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Our CSA is a little different than most; it's a cooperative of farms and offers not just fruit and veggies but meat, dairy, eggs, honey, mushrooms, maple syrup, and some other things I'm forgetting.

It's a LOT of veggies, and sometimes it's a lot of stuff we might not like or be familliar with -- we got a good bit of greens this year, and some sour currants and lots of squash. I really had to make a commitment to coming home with the box and then planning out what I was going to do with the food and doing a lot of internet research to find ideas and recipes. But it was good -- we always just planned the morning around it, and it broadend my cooking skillz.

Also, it was frustrating because sometimes we would get not quite enough of one thing to actually make a dish out of... like, we'd get two small beets, or something. I think they're going to try to do differently this year so that doesn't happen.

We got a 'short' share last year, 1 box a month for 4 months. We got 3 chickens, 22 pounds of ground beef, a bunch of steaks, a roast and a leg of lamb, plus 8 dozen eggs, honey, veggies and fruit, and we paid something like $375. We LOVED it. I would absolutely do their 'full' share (1 box a month for 9 months, plus some extras) if we were planning on staying in the state. Alas, we're moving and we can't take the CSA with us. But we'll be looking for another one as soon as we're settled.


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#9 of 30 Old 01-03-2007, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is all sounding good. If you didnt like your csa, what area are you in?

Our only issue is we also garden and get a bounty! We might skip the summer veggie section and just do fruits and flowers for that season. But OTH, I would like to see their veggies as well since we also do not do some of the ones listed. I do know from the list on the fruits, if it makes it even home w/out dd1 eating it all, that would be nice. Also, I agree w everyone who wants to support the local guy which I firmly believe.

I already do Frontier and it gets us several things so we dont have to visit the big box but I would like to have more things that are helping rather than hurting.

One good thing, my mother and MIL would take any veggies I need to unload because they can come up with something to do with it.

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#10 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 08:44 AM
 
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We have done one CSA for three years and added another one last year so we were members of two different ones. I LOVED it. For so many reasons. It depends on your CSA of course, but I find that most farmers who do CSAs are open to hearing questions or requests for doing things differently. I loved the variety of veggies and the freshness. It challenged me to cook differently. I also think it saved me money and had us eating more healthily. I can't say enough good things about CSAs - obviously since we did two last year and will again. We didn't have any trouble eating all the veggies either - except for drowning in lettuce in late spring.
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#11 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 11:08 AM
 
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One thing I forgot to add is that if there was anything I didn't recognize, I asked the folks at the farm and they were always very helpful. I also asked how to prepare a lot of stuff if I had never cooked it before. My "Joy of Cooking" is very helpful that way as well.

As far as not getting enough of something - sometimes we would save it until the next week (if it was storable) and then we would combine it with the next week's harvest. I did this with beets and leeks with great success.
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#12 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 11:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
I have all the info and prices to join a CSA that starts in May and goes until Dec.

I know all the good reasons to do this and it is a bit of cash upfront which we have but I need some of you mamas who have done this:

Was it too much or too little veggies?
Was it worth the price?
Would you do it again?
If not, did you miss it afterwards?
If yes, why??
We love our CSA. We live in central NJ, BTW. We got a LOT of food, even with the smaller share. Some weeks it was too much of one thing and not enough of another, like we always had more lettuce than we could use, and there was never enough broccoli to make me happy. And carrots failed this year, which was disappointing. But we would give the excess to friends and family. And it actually spurred me on to learn how to preserve the stuff, and we wound up getting a big freezer, and now I have veggies and fruit for the winter, too. This year we're actually getting a bigger share, even though we had too much with the smaller share, so that we can truly have farm veggies all year. I learned how to cook and eat foods I'd never heard of, which was fun.

DH estimates that it paid for itself in the fourth month, compared to supermarket veggies, and sooner if we'd bought organic at the supermarket. And it was a 6 month share, so it was totally worth the money.

Heck yes we'd do it again. I'm hooked. I am so totally yearning for tomatoes that taste like tomatoes rather than plastic, and lettuce that's not bitter, and strawberries-- OMG the strawberries!!!!!!!!

I think that for the quality of the food alone, it was a great thing for us. Add onto that the satisfaction of supporting local organic agriculture, and being independent of the supermarket monstrosity, and also the benefits for my daughter of going each week to see first-hand how food is grown and picking her own food. Plus there's a great little community that we kinda got drawn into that exists at the farm, and it was good for us to meet people and all.

and OMG OMG OMG I can't wait for the spring and the strawberries again!

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#13 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 12:12 PM
 
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We bought a freezer, too, and it's been FABULOUS having greens and vegis on hand whenever we want them.

The other necessary thing for our share is Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone--it really helped me figure out what to do with some of the stuff. I eat much more broadly than I did before the share, that's for sure. I love it.
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#14 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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We've been a member of 2 CSAs. The first was fabulous--traditional, one farmer, CSA. It was in Asheville, the drop point was 20 minutes from home, and I worked a flexible job that allowed me to pick up all but one of the 20 weeks (the other week, we were on vacation; we opted to have our box donated to charity). We loved the variety, the stretching of our taste buds, even though the tomato crop failed, and we didn't get all that many herbs (and the farm is named Full Moon Herb farm ) Totally worth the price, even though a few weeks were shorter than others (as the PP have said)

We joined a CSA in Atlanta 2 summers ago. Terrible experience. We live pretty far out in the suburbs, nad the pick up spot was about an hour (with traffic) away, deep into downtown. My job was less flexible, so I'd have to rush to get there, and once, by the time I fought traffic, the place they dropped off had closed, and I had to go back the next day. Ugh. The quantity was small, the quality not all that great, and the variety was also small. We ended up dropping out 1/2 way through.

This year, I've found another CSA about 20 minutes north of here (no traffic during the day, yay!), so we're going to try again. I've also found a co-op about an hour away (but in the town my mom lives in) that gets raw milk every other week (it's illegal in my state), so we're going to try to work that into our routine as well.

The good experience more than made up for the bad, though, so we're willing to try again.
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#15 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 01:18 PM
 
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This is all sounding good. If you didnt like your csa, what area are you in?

Our only issue is we also garden and get a bounty! We might skip the summer veggie section and just do fruits and flowers for that season. But OTH, I would like to see their veggies as well since we also do not do some of the ones listed. I do know from the list on the fruits, if it makes it even home w/out dd1 eating it all, that would be nice. Also, I agree w everyone who wants to support the local guy which I firmly believe.

I already do Frontier and it gets us several things so we dont have to visit the big box but I would like to have more things that are helping rather than hurting.

One good thing, my mother and MIL would take any veggies I need to unload because they can come up with something to do with it.

I also garden, and was very happy with my bumper crops...they meant that I could freeze either MY daily crop, or the quantity we got from the farm...PLUS the amount that I'd normally be able to freeze. It's meaning that this winter we're spending a lot less on buying frozen produce...and it's all organic and basically free!

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#16 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 03:44 PM
 
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Thank you for this thread! I talked it over with DH last night and we're going to be buying a half share at a local farm this year!
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#17 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 04:32 PM
 
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We love our CSA. We live in central NJ, BTW.... And carrots failed this year, which was disappointing.... I am so totally yearning for tomatoes that taste like tomatoes rather than plastic, and lettuce that's not bitter, and strawberries-- OMG the strawberries!!!!!!!!

I think that for the quality of the food alone, it was a great thing for us. Add onto that the satisfaction of supporting local organic agriculture, and being independent of the supermarket monstrosity, and also the benefits for my daughter of going each week to see first-hand how food is grown and picking her own food. Plus there's a great little community that we kinda got drawn into that exists at the farm, and it was good for us to meet people and all.

and OMG OMG OMG I can't wait for the spring and the strawberries again!
Llyra belonged to the same CSA we did. The strawberries WERE amazing. At one point we picked 5 quarts of them, for just me and my 3 year old!

This thread has got me thinking about it again, and how I could make it work a bit better. My friend doesn't want to split a share with me again, so if I can't find a splitter, we won't really be able to afford it. Maybe I can sign up to have our house be a delivery site. I think that would eliminate the biggest barriers (the drive, the time it took to split EVERY Saturday, because of course it was impossible to separate the kids once we met up, etc.).

Hmmm... I really did love being part of the CSA. My DH would kill me, though I'll have to think more about it!

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#18 of 30 Old 01-04-2007, 06:48 PM
 
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We did it for the first time last year. It was definitely worth it, we're going to do it again this year.

In the beginning we did have some waste... it took me a few weeks to get used to arranging meals around that week's share. Once I got in the swing of things we were able to use most of the veggies. I loved that it got me to try lots of things I wouldn't normally buy.

The amount of veggies was about right. The farm offered a mini-share, a regular share, and a robust share. We did the regular share. I almost never had to buy veggies to supplement our share. When I did it was usually because I wanted more of a specific item.

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#19 of 30 Old 01-05-2007, 12:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My dh is also saying - do it! So I will send in the check this week and another mama told me in detail about the csa I am joining and to write her name down as a referral so she can get a credit which is fine by me!

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#20 of 30 Old 01-05-2007, 03:28 PM
 
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How do you find one in your area?

I checked a site recommended by MotherEarthNews for locating coop's but there aren't any in my area.

Any suggestions?
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#21 of 30 Old 01-05-2007, 06:39 PM
 
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Maybe try here?
http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

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#22 of 30 Old 01-05-2007, 10:24 PM
 
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My dh is also saying - do it! So I will send in the check this week and another mama told me in detail about the csa I am joining and to write her name down as a referral so she can get a credit which is fine by me!
Thank you! :
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#23 of 30 Old 01-06-2007, 12:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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you beat me to it!

And THANK YOU!!! mugglemom, gotta help out all those muggles out there....

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#24 of 30 Old 01-06-2007, 11:03 AM
 
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I joined a CSA two summers ago and decided not to do it again. I love supporting farmers but I save more money shopping at the farmer's market and gardening. I think our CSA had a lot of kind of gourmet varieties and the farmer was trying to give everyone a particular dollar amount per week which matched the amount we paid. My family wouldn't touch some of the things we got in our box. Also the pickup was about 20 minutes away and dragging everyone out every week was a pain.

But I think for some people CSAs can be really wonderful and convenient. I was hoping for a great bargain and didn't get it, but I have a friend who belonged to a CSA for many years and her farm had an unlimited pick-your-own policy so she made out VERY well.

I think if you can garden for even half of your family's produce it's not worth it to join a CSA but if gardening is difficult for you (for any reason) it can be convenient and a wonderful experience.

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#25 of 30 Old 01-06-2007, 02:31 PM
 
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We are considering joining one with the Christmas money we received as gifts. I shoud say I'm considering. Dh is still soured by our last expeience.

We joined one--12 years ago?--in Wisconsin. It was always on time and delivered as advertised. They had said lots of corn and tomatoes, but we got lots of rutabaga and kale. And turnips. Stuff I never eat and dh has childhood-related nightmares about There was supposed to be fruit, but "the blueberries didn't work". They did give me TONS of canning pickles when I said I'd love some. We went to visit the farm one day, which was fun, but one one of the other ladies asked if they were going to give potato greens for eating, the guy didn't know. He didn't know you can't eat potato greens!!! She didn't either, obviously. I said so.

So, I like to think maybe we joined one where they just didn't quite know what they were doing (many there had closed subscriptions). Emailed a moms list I'm on about it, got good responses. I emailed the farm and they confirmed they don't do rutabaga or corn (we aren't big corn on the cob eaters). Now I just need to convince dh!!

We have an organic garden but I can't keep us in anything but green onions OR lettuce. I wish the neighors would cut down that tree and give me more sun!!!
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#26 of 30 Old 01-08-2007, 08:54 PM
 
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We've belonged to a CSA on two occasions. I like the concept of supporting a local farm, and I enjoyed visiting the farm each week to pick up our basket. But I found there to be too much in quantity and not enough variety- like week after week of loads of fava beans. I had hoped to use what was in the basket as a motivator to make me seek out new recipes (kind of like letting someone else decide what was for dinner). But I have now swung the other direction and prefer to pick a recipe and then go find the ingredients- luckily we have tons of locally grown produce available in stores near us. Also, there's no way that what I used from the baskets justified the price we paid, but I considered it sort of a "public service" to help support the farm. Hope you have a good experience!
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#27 of 30 Old 01-08-2007, 11:54 PM
 
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I forgot about the odd lack of variety in our CSA. Lots nad lots of greens. Don't get me wrong--I love greens. But kale, mustard, lettuce, and asian greens all every week can get a little, well, green.

And, when I asked if they were growing okra, they looked at me as if I had three heads. "People don't like okra." : They did bring me some from their private garden patch, after I told them that this "people" did love okra. LOL
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#28 of 30 Old 01-09-2007, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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ohhhh now I want some okra since we people also eat it!

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#29 of 30 Old 01-09-2007, 11:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lenore80 View Post
Too little veggies.
It was NOT worth the price.
I would NOT do it again, and we did not miss it. I could have bought a LOT more veggies with that 250 at a farmers market or grocery store.
This was my experience as well.
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#30 of 30 Old 01-09-2007, 11:59 AM
 
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We are thinking about joining one this spring as well. Right now we are horrible at eating fresh produce and trying a variety and DD loves vegetables. I think having someone give me a variety will make me more inclined to try and eat them. The cost seems a little high compared to our farmers market though. Where we are moving to there is an organic strawberry farm where you can pick an entire ice cream pail full for $8 in the summer. But at the same time where we are moving to we probably won't have a garden this summer or the next so I feel like we would miss out on the fresh stuff. I think I might try splitting it with someone though, thats a good idea.
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