Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Still Time to Sign Up For a CSA!


I’ve heard there’s long waiting lists to become a member of many CSAs around the city. Park Slope’s is packed, Greenpoint-Williamsburg’s maxed out, and Crown Heights’s, new as of last year, filled up so early that another CSA sprouted up in South Crown Heights this year. So if you’re on one of those lists, here’s some good news. Many CSAs in New York City still need members this season, and I dare say, you need to get in on this before the door’s closed.

When naysayers argue that local, sustainable food is elite, they’re missing one crazy loophole: the average cost of a CSA share. Community Supported Agriculture is designed to benefit both you and the farm, profit-seeking middle men out of the equation. It’s simple, rustic, and fun in an Iron Chef sort of way: you pay up front for a whole season’s worth of produce, and receive weekly batches of food from a local farm. The cost of a full share in the New York City area, for a twenty-two week season, ranges around $500. It’s far more than enough food for one person, though, so if you split one share or get a half-share (which are now offered at most), it’s more like $12 a week, and it’s still a lot of food.

To search for the closest CSA in your neighborhood, see Just Food’s website. Be sure to check if one of the 20 new CSAs in NYC are in your area. Do you want meat, milk and raw cheese? There’s a new meat CSA served by High Points Farms, in the Finger Lakes. Grass-fed beef, pastured pork, free-range eggs and local cheese are coming to two pick-up locations in the city, in the East Village and Brooklyn Heights. Don’t miss out.

strawberries came with my first pick-up of the CSA season last year

There’s much more besides food that you can enjoy from joining a CSA, though. In addition to becoming acquainted with all manner of radishes (like the Easter egg ones at top), I got to know many folks who live in my neighborhood from joining one last year. Visiting the farm that served my CSA, Sang Lee, and meeting the family that operated it was another wonderful bonus. I ate better, and for way less than eating “poorly,” for sure. And because my refrigerator was so full of good food most of the time, I had a lot of fun sharing it at picnics and parties. Clearly, I can’t say enough good things about joining a CSA, so I’ll stop and let someone else talk about it instead.

Maia Raposo

Maia Raposo is a CSA Development & Nutrition Education associate at the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (and makes a mean homemade barbecue sauce for grilled chicken, too). She has been organizing the Central Brooklyn CSA, one of the new ones in town this year, and took a moment to explain here how and why it was started up. The deadline to apply for this one is tomorrow, though! Check out how cheap the prices of this CSA’s shares are, and note how they’re scaled depending on how much income the member makes. I don’t know what’s a more democratic, un-elite way to get food than that.

What was it like getting a new CSA up and running this year? Where did you start?

MP: It’s extremely exciting to start a CSA from scratch. The best part about it is getting the community members excited about the project. We’re working within a church that is French-speaking, and made up of a large immigrant population, many of whom have never heard of CSA before. Getting them interested in the concept and recruiting community members has been the most rewarding part thus far.

Central Brooklyn CSA share prices are tiered by household income level. Why did you decide on this?

This CSA is part of the Farm Fresh Initiative, a project run by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.  This breakdown in pricing is how all of our CSAs run (We also partner with Long Island City and West Harlem). Our main objective is to make CSAs affordable for people regardless of income level;  low-income members are usually left out of purchasing CSA shares because of the up-front cost. NYCCAH’s program allows low-income members to pay using their food stamps and by paying weekly. This ensures that everyone who is interested in joining, can!

What farm is going to be serving this CSA, and what can we expect from them?

The farm that we are partnering with is MimoMex Farm in Goshen NY.  This farm is run by Martin and Gaudencia Rodriguez; they are the first graduates of the New Farmer Development Program to own their own farm land. The NFDP trains immigrants with agricultural experience on farming in the Northeast. They specialize in Mexican produce, but we can also expect lots of standard NYS CSA crops like kale, broccoli, eggplant, and pumpkins!

Besides the food, what’s most rewarding about being part of a CSA to you?

Definitely becoming closer with your community. It’s been so wonderful to see the diverse group of people coming together and working so hard on this project. Every CSA I’ve been a part of has resulted in new friends and great memories. The season hasn’t even started yet, and I can already see that happening within our members. It’s so awesome!

[Full disclosure: readers of The Art of Eating In, same Maia here!]

14 Responses to “Still Time to Sign Up For a CSA!”

  1. Meredith says:

    Unfortunately, most CSA locations are limited to high income neighborhoods, but that’s changing! Thanks for mentioning the flexible payment options because many people are unaware of them. With Just Food’s help, I’m helping to organize a CSA in the Bronx neighborhood where I work, and I’m going to become a member of a new CSA in my neighborhood in Harlem.

  2. Wendy (The Local Cook) says:

    I’m a HUGE fan of CSAs.In Michigan they are definitely not limited to high income neighborhoods, and many offer working shares.

  3. cathy says:

    Meredith: That’s fantastic! Best of luck and I can imagine you’re in good hands with Just Food. Have fun with it :)
    Wendy: That’s so cool to hear your perspective on it!

  4. maia says:

    Yeah, it’s totally awesome how many CSAs are making this their number one priority. Here in NYC, Just Food is doing a whole CSA workshop series on offering flexible payment options, and lots of CSAs are taking advantage of it. Just think of what New York CSAs will be like in a few years… Exciting!

  5. Virginia says:

    I have been a CSA member in the Hudson Valley for
    the past 3 years. My CSA, Common Ground Farm
    has a few shares left. Their website is commongroundfarm.org. Working or non-working shares are available. I eagerly look forward to the new season!

  6. katarina says:

    there are still spots for the fulton st. CSA (south st. seaport) FYI!!

  7. Karol says:

    Gotta plug Paisley Farm CSA– spots still available in Williamsburg, East Village, UES, and Fort Greene! For details, go to: http://upstatefarmsny.com/paisley_farm.html
    Keep up the good work, Maia!

  8. Dick Cadorath says:

    Maia; All very interesting, important stuff-keep it going and all the good work. There is never a shortage of hunger.
    Lv UD and AM

  9. Check out our shout-out on “Not Eating Out In New York” « Central Brooklyn CSA says:

    [...] 4, 2010 by Central Brooklyn CSA Our good friend Cathy Erway wrote a great piece on the Central Brooklyn CSA… There is still time to sign up, but hurry!  Shares are moving [...]

  10. NYCCAH AmeriCorps Member Talks About CSAs on Not Eating Out in New York « New York City Coalition Against Hunger Blog says:

    [...] in Central Brooklyn. Maia Raposo is a CSA Development & Nutrition Education associate at the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (and makes a mean homemade barbecue sauce for grilled chicken, too). She has been organizing the [...]

  11. Crown Heights CSA says:

    There are still a few spots in Crown Heights CSA for 2010. Register online at http://www.crownheightscsa.org. Unfortunately, Crown Heights South did not get off the ground this year.

  12. Brooklyn Bridge CSA says:

    Brooklyn Bridge CSA is one of the new CSAs in Brooklyn and we’re still accepting new members until May 24th! Our pick up location is at 250 Cadman Plaza West (Congregation Mt. Sinai) in Downtown Brooklyn. Check out http://www.BrooklynBridgeCSA.org. Our farmer is Sang Lee Farms!!!

  13. Fulton Market CSA says:

    Norwich Meadows Farm CSAs are great. All organic and tons of additional shares (eggs, butter, chicken, etc) should you so desire. We’re accepting through June 1 with pickup on Wednesdays at the Fulton Stall Market at the Seaport. We need more members! Join us! http://downtowncsa.wordpress.com/
    PS – Sang Lee is a great farm.

  14. csa standards says:

    csa standards…

    [...]Still Time to Sign Up For a CSA! » Not Eating Out in New York[...]…

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