It’s spring, it’s Earth Week, and it’s (always) time for fresh fruits and veggies. While Seattle wakes from the long haze of 2020, last year’s lessons are still top of mind. Namely: Our city relies on supply chains run by essential workers. Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities are more vulnerable to economic shock waves, stemming from historical injustices. And our choices can help buoy these communities.
Community-supported agriculture, or CSA subscriptions, help farmers weather fluctuating crop yields because consumers commit to purchasing for a number of weeks. In turn, buyers get local, largely organic food delivered to the city. According to Sheryl Wiser of the nonprofit Tilth Alliance, CSA sign-ups shot up last year, and they’re “skyrocketing again” this year, too.
SPRING, SUMMER & FALL
Celebrating its third decade in the Yakima Valley, this family-owned business will kick off the CSA season with organic leafy greens, salad onions, and other spring favorites. Founder Hilario Alvarez sold all of his cows and belongings back in Michoacán, Mexico, for a down payment on land in Washington State. He now runs the 80-acre stretch, parents a family of nine with his wife Maria, and donates his surplus to food banks across the Puget Sound. Watch out for melon varieties come summer. CSA May thru Nov; available at multiple farmers markets year-round
Juanita Chavarria opened her very first CSA sign-ups this year, servicing King, Pierce, and Thurston Counties from her urban locale in Tacoma. Her deliveries might come living and breathing, with microgreens such as clovers, pea shoots, and radishes. They’re farmed soil-free, using the surplus fibers of coconuts. If you’d like, you can request a hatching duck egg to raise alongside your salad. CSA May thru July; some items available for individual purchase
These 23 acres in Duvall are dedicated to providing fresh, organic food directly to Seattle’s Central District. In 2007, Reverend Dr. Robert Jeffrey Sr. wanted to improve the health of his neighborhood through education and access to nutritious diets. Today, the volunteer-run nonprofit hosts youth programs, sells at its market on 21st Ave and Yesler, and provides groceries for low-income community members. “When you buy a CSA, you feed a family,” director Brione Scott notes, “Not only are you giving back to an African American farm, but you’re also feeding a family of color without access.” CSA June thru Oct; market reopens in June
The Bryan Mesa family arrived in Tacoma just last year. Originally from Michoacán, Mexico, they began farming in Hawaii four years ago so they could enjoy the food Bryan grew up on: fresh salsa, corn tortillas, and crispy salads grown by hand. The farm’s regenerative, no-till practice yields summer CSAs with micro-basil, micro-cilantro, along with full-size fruits and vegetables. CSA June thru Sept; Bellevue farmers market June thru Sept
Every week, this collaborative of 12 Hmong family farms prepares seasonal, sundry bouquets. In June, they’ll start the combo produce-flower boxes, which include basil, cilantro, lemongrass, as well as other herbs and fruit. Xia Lor Vang, a Laotian immigrant, and her daughter Friendly organize the joint-CSA, offering sliding scale prices and using a portion of proceeds to pay rent to Coast Salish and other Indigenous groups. It’s cross-cultural solidarity in bloom. CSA Apr thru Oct; available at multiple farmers markets year-round
Emily Tzeng and Brian Love offer separate CSA subscriptions for vegetables, flowers, and fibers. All of their products are farmed in concert: Some yarn is spun from their Finnsheep lamb, then dyed with their flowers, which in turn serve the bees that pollinate their crops. The grass-fed Finnsheep, bred for a “friendly disposition,” are also available to purchase for milking and shearing. CSA May thru Dec; Queen Anne farmers market June thru Oct
This family farm was named after monarch butterflies, which journey up and down the continent each year. Owners Lis and Joaquin Lopez followed their own migratory path in 2014, charting the same three thousand miles from Mexico to Everson, Washington. They farm berries, spicy greens, and fall crops alongside their children, then sell the harvest individually and wholesale at markets across Seattle. June thru Oct
WORTH THE WAITLIST
These farmers are just that good. They’ve sold out CSA subscriptions this year, but they’re worth checking out for 2022.
In June 2020, Bil Thorn and his family saw an unexpected windfall: $45,000, as donations to Black-owned businesses soared during the protests for racial justice. He’s put the new funds toward scaling up his Grays Harbor operation, for more herbs, vegetables, flowers, and fruit. Thorn is also keen to support fellow Black businesses, from Métier Brewing Company to chef Kristi Brown of Communion and That Brown Girl Cooks! June to Oct, subscriptions still open to Grays Harbor
Indoors, Vero works in the public library system. Outdoors, they’re a queer, nonbinary, Andean-Latinx farmer alongside Caitlin, a queer trans-woman and first-generation farmer. Together, the pair services a CSA filled with staples from Woodinville: tomatoes and kale, as well as more niche ground cherries and squash. They’re out for food justice—through mutual aid and targeted distribution to BIPOC, low-income, disabled, and elderly King County residents. Aug to Oct, waitlist open