CSAs give shareholders more than just local produce

Erin Lapore of Spring Garden Township picks her share of tomatoes at Goldfinch Farm in Lower Windsor Township (Photo by Kate Penn)

Beth Weaver-Kreider’s garage is packed with bins, scales and tables draped with checkered linens. Soon, what looks like a setup for a garage sale will feature fresh garden vegetables.

Weaver-Kreider, along with her husband, Jon, has owned and operated Goldfinch Farm in Lower Windsor Township since 2004. Today, the couple grow vegetables for more than 220 shareholders through their community-supported agriculture partnership.

Weaver-Kreider said that although CSAs have been around since the ’70s, there has been a recent peak in interest.

“Definitely in the last five years there’s been a rise in people wanting to know what’s in their food,” she said. She said food scares and films such as “Food, Inc.” also have raised awareness of the movement to eat locally.

A CSA is a business model for farms, Weaver-Kreider said. Because customers sign up to pay for their entire share before the growing season, farmers have capital to grow the crops.

In addition, Goldfinch Farm has three part-time employees working 15 to 20 hours a week. Weaver-Kreider said they also barter 30 shares per season for those willing to work 80 hours on the farm.

Sandra Collin of West York grew up with big vegetable gardens and said as an adult she craved the fresh-tasting tomatoes that she couldn’t find at a grocery store.

When she searched for a CSA, she wanted a full working share option to make the produce fit her food budget.

“Because I work for myself, I had the freedom to work for food,” Collin said. “It’s not as expensive as people think when you do a full- or partial-work share.”

Collin started off doing some of the mowing and picking bugs off plants the first year. Now, she tends to the Weaver-Kreiders’ two children in exchange for a full share of vegetables.

Weaver-Kreider said those involved in the farm’s CSA cover a wide demographic, from people barely out of their teens to those in their 80s.

“It’s easy to assume everyone here is a liberal foodie, but it’s people who want to be aware and connected.”

Collin said CSAs are more fulfilling than just getting fresh vegetables. What sets them apart from gardens or farmers markets is the connection with the farmers, other shareholders and the food.

“I’m getting outside. It’s a social aspect for me,” she said. “It’s like how I should feel about going to the gym.”

From left Becky Glenn of Lancaster, Brad Nevil of Wrightsville, and Yvonne Faria of Lancaster transplant celery at Goldfinch Farm in Lower Windsor Township.

What to expect from a CSA share

Elaine Lemmon will oversee Everblossom Farm’s 10th growing season this year. The Reading Township, Adams County, farm had 150 shareholders last year.

They pay $550 for 25 weeks of vegetable shares, with an additional 21-week local fruit share available for $150. She said winter shares are also growing in popularity, expanding to 90-100 members for 2013-14 season, which runs for 20 weeks from before Thanksgiving to the end of March.

Lemmon hopes to continue expanding the number of shareholders, drawing new customers with certified-organic produce and the ability to join at any time during the growing season at a prorated rate. She said shares include about $35 of produce and feature 10 to 12 items each week.

Goldfinch Farm shares feed two to four people or one to two vegetarians.

Owner Beth Weaver-Kreider said shareholders are getting about $30 to $40 of produce each week for about $25.

A typical August share includes: Six beets, one onion, two cucumbers, one summer squash, 1½ pounds of potatoes, one eggplant, one green pepper, one colored sweet pepper, one head of lettuce, 1 pound of beans, 3 pounds of tomatoes, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, several hot peppers and four basil sprigs.

List of local CSAs

Beth Weaver-Kreider, left, talks with Sally Harvey of Craley as she picks up her share of vegetables.

Here is a list of some local community-supported agriculture farms. Please contact individual farms for rates and availability for the 2013 growing season.

  1. Spoutwood Farm, 4255 Pierceville Road, Codorus Township, 717-235-6610, www.spoutwood.com
  2. Miller Plant Farm, 430 Indian Rock Dam Road, Spring Garden Township, 717-741-2631, www.millerplantfarm.com
  3. Goldfinch Farm, 1027 Schmuck Road, Lower Windsor Township, 717-252-3894, www.goldfinchfarm.com
  4. Prescott’s Patch, 4648 Druck Valley Road, Hellam Township, 717-840-4080
  5. Green Moon Farm, 4945 Horn Road, Hellam Township, 614-216-0066
  6. Horn Farm Center for Agricultural Education, 4945 Horn Road, Hellam Township, 717-757-6441, www.hornfarmcenter.org
  7. Sterling Farm, 4945 Horn Road, Hellam Township, 717-332-8710, www.sterlingfarm.wordpress.com
  8. Kilgore Family Farm, 4945 Horn Road, Hellam Township, 717-968-5285, www.kilgorefamilyfarm.com
  9. Sherlock’s Farm, 385 Locust Lane, Hamilton Township, Adams County, 717-259-5540
  10. Everblossom Farm, 6363 Carlisle Pike, Reading Township, Adams County, 717-253-7797, www.everblossomfarm.com
  11. Sycamore Ridge Farm, 5860 Old Harrisburg Road, Huntington Township, Adams County, 717-528-8515
  12. Crawford Organics, 387 Iron Bridge Road, East Earl Township, Lancaster County, 717-445-6880, www.crawfordorganics.com

— Source: www.localharvest.org

April Trotter

Editor of Smart. NEPA transplant. Penn State and Shippensburg grad. Kickball and craft beer enthusiast. Collector of cardigans. "Bennie and the Jets" fanatic. Contact me at atrotter@ydr.com, at "Smart magazine" on Facebook, @SmartMagPA on Twitter or by phone at 717-771-2030.

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  1. April 4, 2013

    […] CSAs give shareholders more than just local produce […]

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