Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been getting some serious recognition in the past few years. CSA cuts out the middleman in produce selling, allowing community members to buy a share at their local farm, becoming a shareholder of the farm’s crop harvest for the year. In turn, members get a plethora of fresh produce each week, at close to wholesale prices. Plus, your local farms have the resources they need up front for a season of great harvesting.
According to the National Sustainable Agricultural Information Service (ATTRA), produce travels an average of 1,300 to 2,000 miles from farm to consumer. Buying locally grown produce drastically reduces the amount of energy used to transport the produce, plus you’re getting fresher, better tasting vegetables at an affordable price. And you’re supporting the local economy! It doesn’t get much better than that.
While many North Shore CSAs have limited spots and fill up quickly, here are a handful of farms with 2020 shares still available.
Farmer Dave’s prioritizes freshness, quality, and variety. Most crops are harvested less than twenty-four hours before you pick them up at one of their twenty convenient pick-up locations. The farm offers special perks to its CSA members, like discounts on pick-your-own apples, strawberries, and blueberries, plus links to produce guides, tips, recipes, and their exclusive cooking videos, “Vegisodes.” Plus, you’ll be helping the farm help the community—Farmer Dave’s has donated millions of pounds of food to local food banks, and gives subsidized shares to families in need through Groundworks Lawrence.
Long Hill Orchards
You’ll find CSA shares available all year long at Long Hill Orchards, with root vegetables like parsnips, sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts in the winter, and lettuce, eggplant, tomatoes, summer squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, and much more in the summer months. Their full shares can feed a family of four for the week, but you can also choose a half- or quarter-share if you don’t want to commit to quite so many veggies. Shareholders also gain access to the pick-your-own garden, featuring herbs and flowers to brighten up your meals and your home.
First Light Farm
First Light Farm is dedicated to a vision of community vitality in which consumers shop small and shop locally. “The way I see it,” says Mike from First Light, “CSA transforms our crops from sale-able commodities into shareable gifts.” First Light offers a fully customizable share—members pay a $100 fee at the beginning of the season, and then have exclusive access to all First Light crops, giving you completely customizable boxes each week at wholesale prices. You can even find products from other local producers, like meat and cheese. Plus, you can skip out on any weeks you’d like with no charge—perfect for the family that sometimes heads out of town during the summer months.
Chris’ Farm Stand
Haverhill & Peabody
With locations in both Haverhill & Peabody, Chris’ Farm Stand offers a huge variety of produce and herbs with its CSA. Their expected 2020 harvest includes okra, swiss chard, mint, and peaches, plus all your typical heavy hitters, like tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, and corn. Check out the whole roster here. Their shares even include a unique weekly rotation of fresh eggs and honey. Whole shares come out to $35 per week, and they also do half-shares for households of one or two people for $20 per week.
Pleasant Valley Gardens
Located along the Merrimack River, Pleasant Valley Gardens has been owned and operated by the Bonanno family for over 100 years. Today, they offer CSA shares in small, medium, and large sizes, feeding anywhere from one to five people per week. They make sure they all members get bang for their buck each week, supplementing the spring harvest with flowers from the greenhouse, and the fall harvest with pumpkins, corn stalks, and mums.