Community Supported Agriculture or "CSA" is a term that has come to represent a range of direct farm marketing partnerships where community members support their local farm by pre-paying for a season’s worth of produce. Members usually pay ahead in the winter or early spring, thereby helping their farmer with all the early season expenses (seeds, supplies, tools, etc). In turn, members then receive a weekly share of vegetables starting later in the spring and over the course of the season, as the harvest comes in.
How it works:
In the spring, members commit to receiving a weekly share of vegetables by paying for 16 weeks in advance. Then, starting in July, members receive a weekly box filled with fresh vegetables from our farm. In addition we include a newsletter with farm updates, descriptions of new and different vegetables, and 2-3 recipes for how to prepare some of the box contents.
What are the perks:
We prioritise our Harvest Box members, meaning that if a favourite veggie is in limited supply (like snap peas or strawberries) we put them in our Harvest Box first, rather than sending them to market. Our Harvest Box members literally receive the "cream of the crop"! Not to mention members receive a weekly newsletter with storage and cooking tips, 2-3 recipes, and a farm update. Finally, members can feel great about supporting and connecting with a local organic farm! We'll not only fill your belly with healthy delicious veggies, we also hope to fill it with a warm fuzzy feeling...
What’s in our Harvest Box:
Each week members receive a variety of 8-10 different vegetables that are a reflection of what’s in season. Below are some examples of the types of vegetables one can expect throughout the season:
Where and when is pick up:
Our Harvest Box program runs from the first week of July until the third week of October, 16 weeks in total.
Harvest Box pick up is every Wednesday. Members have the choice of picking up their box at the following locations:
Crofton: at our farm (7871 Tatlo Road West), 3:00 – 6:00 pm
Chemainus: at the Chemainus Health Food Store (9738 Willow Street), 3:00 – 5:30 pm
Duncan: at the Community Farm Store (5380 Trans Canada HWY), 3:30 – 7:00 pm
How big is the box and how much does it cost:
Each Harvest Box contains approximately $25 worth of vegetables/week, so a season of 16 weeks costs a total of $400. It includes 8-10 different vegetables each week, in portions that are approximately enough for a couple or family of four with small kids.
It’s always difficult to say if a box is enough vegetables for a certain number of people for one week- it really depends on how many veggies you eat! We encourage our members to think of our Harvest Box as a base: a good start to eating fresh, local vegetables, but they may still decide to buy extra veggies at the farmer’s market or grocery store.
What if I’m away, can I put my box on hold?
You can arrange to pick up your vegetables at our farm on a different day if you are going to be away. Or if you will be away for a longer period, we encourage you to find a friend or family member to pick up your box for you (share the goodness with someone you love!). If you are unable to make other arrangements we can offer you a credit to use at our Farm Gate Sale or our stall at the Duncan Farmer's Market, so long as you give us at least 4 days notice. If you plan to be away a lot in the summer then this might not be the best program for you. You may prefer to sign up for our Farm Friend Card instead.
Can I make substitutions or choose what I get each week?
Each week we carefully plan, harvest, wash, and pack the contents of the Harvest Boxes, so that all boxes are the same and can go to any one member; therefore, we are unable to allow for substitutions. If you're someone who likes to pick out your own veggies each week (which is totally cool too!) then you might prefer to sign up for our Farm Friend Card instead.
That said, we do put a lot of thought into what we include in the box each week. We try to include a nice variety of family favourites/staples, seasonal specialties, and the odd exciting new crop! (Promise- we won't fill your box with "just fennel" or "just rutabaga" or just any one thing for that matter). We also make an effort to not repeat the same items week after week. That said, the contents of the box are a reflection of what’s in season and this shifts gradually over the course of the 16 weeks. Consider it an adventure! You’ll become more familiar with what’s in season when, and you will get to try new vegetables that you may love and might have overlooked before ("Who knew radishes could taste so good!"). Also, we will include recipes and cooking instructions, so you won’t be left wondering how to prepare new vegetables. Over the course of the season you will learn about new foods and new cooking techniques!
Is it organic?
We are fully Certified Organic and a member of the Island Organic Producers Association. This means we use no chemical spays, fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, nor GMOs. In fact we are required to use all Certified Organic seed wherever possible, as well as Certified Organic feed for our chickens. Furthermore we must demonstrate our efforts to actively build our soil, protect our water, and uphold the natural biodiversity on our farm. We are audited annually to ensure we are doing these things and adhering to the Canadian Organic Standards. If you have any questions about organic certification and why we choose to certify our farm, we would be happy to talk more about it with you- just ask us!
Want to think about it some more?
Check out our blog post about saving up for a Harvest Box.
If you have any other questions about our Harvest Box program please don't hesitate to contact us, or if you're ready you can sign up now (space is limited, so sign up the sooner the better)!
Farm Friend Card
In 2017 we are introducing our Farm Friend Card as an alternative to our Harvest Box program. The Farm Friend Card is essentially a pre-paid debit card that you can use at our Farm Gate Sale on Wednesdays and at our booth at the Duncan Farmer's Market on Saturdays.
How it works:
Customers have until April 1* to sign up for their Farm Friend Card. Just like the Harvest Box program, receiving payment in the early spring helps a lot with early season farm expenses. Sign up in $100 increments and for every $100 you put on your card you'll receive an additional $5 (e.g. put $200 on your card and we'll send a card with the value of $210). We will also add you to our weekly email newsletter, so you'll receive reminders about markets, farm updates, and recipes for what's in season.
In April we will mail your Farm Friend Card with your total balance and then you can start using it as soon as we start markets- either at our Farm Gate Sale or our booth at the Duncan Farmer's Market. There is no commitment to use the card on a weekly basis, but the card must be used up by the end of the 2017 season (usually mid-November). If any unused balances remain at the end of the season we will donate them to our local foodbank.
What are the perks:
Our Farm Friend Card is a great option for all our customers who want to support our farm, but prefer to pick out their own veggies. It also works well for those who go away a lot in the summer and don't want to commit to picking up a Harvest Box each week. Also with a Farm Friend Card you don't have to worry about carrying cash or writing a cheque- simply bring your card along and we'll debit your pre-paid balance. Last, for every $100 you put on your card you'll receive an additional $5 credit!
*The deadline for signing up for a Farm Friend Card is April 1, after which time you cannot add more to your balance. This allows us to take care of the administrative side of things and mail out the cards in advance of our busy market season.
If you have any other questions about our Farm Friend Card please don't hesitate to contact us, or if you're ready you can sign up now!