NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – The temperature may be a dozen degrees below normal, but the gardens of Community Supported Agriculture are already gearing up for the season. Now is the time to decide whether CSA membership is for you.
A CSA is often described as a farming co-op. A limited number of people buy seasonal shares in a grower’s crops and stop by, usually weekly, to collect their packages of produce. Some CSAs require that shareholders put in some labor in the fields, others rely totally on their own workers. Some CSAs sell half-shares, others require full-share membership.
“Nobody has to work at our place,” said Evelyn Bartmann of Yorktown's E.B.’s Golden Harvest. “But if they put in 10 hours of work, they get a $100 discount.” The cost of a full share will be $1,650 this year. For that, you are entitled to 24 weeks of products, including vegetables, fruit and berries, which are especially popular at E.B.’s.
Yorktown's Hilltop Hanover Farm offers 20 weeks of vegetables for $650. One share provides enough vegetables for a family of four for a week. North Salem's Harvest Moon offers an 18 week full bushel for $700, which is often enough produce for two families to share.
Typically, July produce includes choices of carrots, leeks, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and leafy greens. September may offer broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, onions, peppers and more.
Bartmann says she is expecting a good crop this year, “because it was a great year for maple syrup and that usually indicates a good growing season. Plus, we had snowfall and snow is the poor man’s fertilizer. It provides all the nutrients that plants need.”
Harvest Moon offered CSA produce for the first time last year. It was so successful, the owners plan to double the number of shareholders this year, from 25 to 50. Harvest Moon’s season will run from July through September. Other farms may start a little earlier, and/or run a little later. Many are strictly organic.
The quantities, dates, varieties, pickup arrangements and costs vary from one CSA to another, so you may want to shop around. Start soon, though, because the shares are usually gone before the season opens.
Following is a list of some local CSAs:
E.B.’s Golden Harvest , Yorktown Heights
Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard , North Salem
Hilltop Hanover Farm , Yorktown Heights
J & A Farm , Pleasantville
Ryder Farm , Brewster
Cascade Farm , Patterson
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