The CSA Grind

I’m a big fan of CSAs.  I like the idea of them — urban dwellers supporting small farms and getting a bounty of incredibly fresh fruits and vegetables in exchange.  After two years with my first CSA, it was time for a change.  Why you ask?  Well, I had a few several issues with the first CSA.  The CSA distribution was incredibly disorganized and if you didn’t arrive at the beginning of the pick-up period, you didn’t get all you were entitled to.  Patrons packaged their own produce leaving an opening for taking more than one should.  Fruit shares cost extra and mostly consisted of apples.  And finally, the pick-up location was incredibly inconvenient for me and my husband.  Even so, this did not turn me off from CSAs in total, just made me want to move from this one.

So I found a new CSA.  Convenient — weekend pick-ups in my neighborhood.  Organized — produce is pre-packaged and waiting when you arrive.  Fruit — fruit is included for free.  Price — it’s about the same price as the old CSA.  I was enamored with the new CSA, completely enamored until about a week prior to the start date.  They had weather issues at their farm that destroyed many of their crops and thus skipped out on the first drop-off.  The recourse to shareholders — they say they gave us extra veggies in the following weeks but I actually 1) would have preferred a refund for that week or an extra week, and 2) didn’t notice any extras.  Well, I moved past that because the people at this CSA are very very nice and I enjoy chatting with them each week.  Even so, I think my enjoyment is ending now.  I’m pretty sure I’m either going to skip the CSA membership altogether next year or I need to find a(nother) new CSA.  My big complaint is about the diversity of produce we receive every week.  For the last 5 weeks, we’ve gotten a pint of tomatillos, 1-2 onions, 1-2 tomatoes, 2-3 eggplant/zucchini, a bunch of basil, and enough greens (collards, kale, other) to make a side for 1.  Ugh.  As if that’s not bad enough, this CSA also has a general farmer’s market stand that we pick-up from and they regularly offer all kinds of goodies we’d love to have (and would expect any CSA to include) but we don’t get any of those goodies.  So no corn, okra, green beans, arugula — all things they’re selling at the farmer’s market stand when we pick-up.

As a CSA member, I expect to be treated like a premium customer.  I signed up to go through the highs and lows with them, I hate that they’re saving all the lows for me.

Have you ever participated in a CSA?

What was your experience?

Is this normal?

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