It’s finally that time, when good things start to come to those who have waited (and waited): spring in the Northwest. Rainy mornings turn into brisk sunny afternoons. The ground is speckled with cherry blossom petals. The raincoat gets a little less wear. Patio furniture comes out of hibernation. And CSA (community supported agriculture) shares get snapped up. Springtime means almost-summertime, which means it’s time to start thinking about CSAs, and signing up for a share of the bounty to come.
As more farms offer CSAs, choosing one can be an overwhelming process. Here are a few excellent options.
From the farm that supplies James Beard nominee Matt Dillon’s restaurants, this is the most luxurious CSA. (And we want it.) In the weekly box, members can expect fresh fruits and vegetables, a half-dozen eggs, a dairy product, a loaf of bread, one jar of preserves, and a bottle of wine. Plus there’s an optional $650 meat share: eight chickens, half a pig, and a lamb.
The Restaurateur’s CSA
$420-$630 for the season, from mid-June through October, with the option for a winter CSA extension
$20-$30 a week
Pick up at various Seattle locations Thursday through Sunday
Oxbow’s list of restaurants it supplies will clue you in on the quality: Tilth, Walrus and the Carpenter, Café Flora, and Canlis to mention just a few. The 25-acre farm is certified organic and salmon safe, and partners with a collective of eastern Washington farmers to supplement the produce boxes with ripe cherries and peaches at the height of summer.
The City Dweller’s CSA
Amaranth Urban Farm
Rainier Beach and Kent Valley
$784 for the entire summer season, options for 1/2 season shares
$28-$30 a week
Pick up in the city at various locations (including Skelly and the Bean and Pike Brewing)
Amaranth is an urban farm run by Seattleites. The produce in subscribers’ boxes never goes more than 10 miles from where it was grown. (Unless it comes along on a picnic road trip.) Amaranth also serves as a model for other aspiring urban farmers and has opportunities for tours and work shares. (Plus there’s an optional 17-week, $170 flower share.)
The Musician’s CSA
Helsing Junction Farm
$360-$666 for the season mid-June to mid-October
$20-$37 a week
Pick up at many Seattle sites as well as in Tacoma, Olympia, Centralia, and Kelso on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Helsing Junction farm has been around for twenty years, growing 30 acres of of fruits and vegetables and flowers. The farm sells produce to a few organic markets and restaurants in the northwest and hosts a music festival with an Olympia record company (complete with in-orchard camping) every summer.
The Community Activist’s CSA
Seattle Market Gardens
$300-$500 for the season
$15-$25 a week
Pick up at various Seattle locations on Thursdays, Saturdays, or Sundays
Two of the South Seattle P-Patch gardens provide the produce for this CSA, as well as for a weekly farm stand. The gardens are manned by residents, and are part of the P-Patch program that is working to help communities become happier and healthier through the presence of gardens. It’s definitely a feel-good CSA.
The Aspiring Gardener’s CSA
The Root Connection
$692 ($678 if you register by April 15) for the season June-October
$33 a week
There are drop sites in Lynwood and North Seattle on Wednesdays, or pick up at the farm Wednesday through Saturday
Most CSAs proudly advertise that the produce comes to you less than 48 hours after being picked—members can grab their Root Connection share just four hours after its contents were picked. Most members go to the farm to retrieve their share in order to take advantage of the unique Root Connection bonus: free U-picking. This is a more hands-on CSA—no home delivery, no supercentral pick-up spots, but members can go tromp around the farm and harvest their own herbs, flowers, and greens.
The Lazy (but great) CSA-ish CSAs
Full Circle Farms
Year-round, $23-$45 a week
Full Circle is an organic produce delivery service, not a traditional CSA. Full Circle does have farms in Washington, but also sources from warmer places during the winter months. Customizable boxes of produce magically arrive every Friday morning, and subscribers can add in other organic groceries like Essential Baking Co. bread, Theo chocolate, fresh La Pasta fettuccine, and Boat Street pickled figs.
Year-round, $30-$40 a week
Much like Full Circle, New Roots delivers boxes of organic produce year-round to Seattleites. The company sources primarily from Washington, but also Oregon, California, and Mexico, when the pickings get slim up north. The boxes are somewhat customizable and they get delivered right to the door.