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2020 CSAs: Produce Amidst Pestilence

2020 CSAs: Produce Amidst Pestilence
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  • Post #61 - June 22nd, 2020, 9:57 am
    Post #61 - June 22nd, 2020, 9:57 am Post #61 - June 22nd, 2020, 9:57 am
    I'm curious to hear from others who joined CSAs this year. Are you satisfied with the contents? Positives and negatives to the program?
    -Mary
  • Post #62 - June 22nd, 2020, 10:25 am
    Post #62 - June 22nd, 2020, 10:25 am Post #62 - June 22nd, 2020, 10:25 am
    I've been very impressed and pleased with our Nichols Farm CSA. The selection, quality and condition of the items in our weekly boxes seem way better than any of our previous CSAs. In fact, if our previous CSA experiences had been this positive all along, we wouldn't have planned to ditch it all together (before coronavirus hit). I also appreciate the emails we receive from them, which detail with great accuracy, what we can expect to receive each week. Another nice feature of Nichols is that we can buy additional items and have them delivered, with no additional delivery charge, with our box every week. So, going long or doubling up on an item is easy-breezy

    Yes, we do occasionally get an item we don't want or cannot use but we usually pass those on to friends. And every once in a while, an item (or amount) is considerably bigger or smaller than what we expected, which can throw some challenges into meal planning. But all in all, we're very glad to be on-board at Nichols.

    =R=
    By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you'll only destroy yourself. --Kambei Shimada

    Every human interaction is an opportunity for disappointment --RS

    There's a horse loose in a hospital --JM

    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain
  • Post #63 - June 22nd, 2020, 11:26 am
    Post #63 - June 22nd, 2020, 11:26 am Post #63 - June 22nd, 2020, 11:26 am
    I've done Tomato Mountain's spring share, Green Acre's May sampler, and then signed up with Green Acre's regular offering from June onwards.

    Tomato Mountain has been pretty good. They send a sneak peek the week before, but about 50% of the time it seems they have to switch up what they wind up delivering (notified a day or two ahead of time). Especially early on, there was a fair amount of overwintered product, but that is likely what you would find at the markets at that time as well. Similar to what Ronnie described, you can add on to your order pretty easily. This CSA is also aggregating produce from a dizzying array of other local farms and producers (Mick Klug, River Valley Ranch, Iron Creek, Uselman's, Driftless Organics, Vitruvian Farms, Nichol's, Chicago Indoor Garden, American Pride Microgreens, Smits Farms) in addition to what they grow so I can imagine that coordinating this all is likely a bit of a pain. That said, they are very precise and clear about how they are valuing each component of your box to meet their weekly commitment (usually a $1-$2 upcharge from what it would cost to buy some of these direct, which seemed reasonably given the overhead).

    The fact that I had two different CSAs for the month of June led to a decent amount of repetition/overlap (got pretty sick of asparagus), but that's not the fault of the individual farms. I think that the value of what I was getting for what I paid was a bit better with Green Acres than Tomato Mountain, but I do have to pick up that box from a nearby drop-off site while TM delivers to your door. Since TM is also coordinating between several different farms and other local producers (cheese, hot sauce, eggs, local grains, preserves, etc) , you do have more to choose from in terms of add-ons.

    I've been reasonably pleased, but still prefer to shop at the market and plan on returning when infection and the resulting logistical challenges have mostly passed. That being said, I did wind up trying some things I don't normally buy (overwintered sunchokes, sorrel, etc), and that was welcome. It may make me consider a wider variety of produce at the market when I do go there.
  • Post #64 - June 22nd, 2020, 12:10 pm
    Post #64 - June 22nd, 2020, 12:10 pm Post #64 - June 22nd, 2020, 12:10 pm
    We've been happy with our CSA from Henry's Farm. Cons: I have to get up relatively early for me on Saturday mornings to pick up at the Evanston Farmers' Market. Pros: Communication is good, with e-mails a few days ahead of the market, several choices (last week — snow peas or sugar snaps, spinach or chard), and occasional swap-out (I exchanged a large head of lettuce for burdock). Of course, Henry's is 100% organic, and hand hid sister Terra are prolific writers, detailing what's going on at the farm every week. Plus, in the cookbook that comes with the membership, Henry acknowledges that one of his shares may be too much for a two-person household like ours, so he includes suggestions for preserving and freezing most of the produce he offers.
  • Post #65 - June 22nd, 2020, 12:27 pm
    Post #65 - June 22nd, 2020, 12:27 pm Post #65 - June 22nd, 2020, 12:27 pm
    Very happy with Mick Klug. They tell you what you are getting ahead of time and you can add-on. Easy pick up.
  • Post #66 - June 22nd, 2020, 1:18 pm
    Post #66 - June 22nd, 2020, 1:18 pm Post #66 - June 22nd, 2020, 1:18 pm
    Darren72 wrote:Very happy with Mick Klug. They tell you what you are getting ahead of time and you can add-on. Easy pick up.


    What sorts of "special treats" have you been receiving? Their website was pretty vague on this point.
  • Post #67 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:12 pm
    Post #67 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:12 pm Post #67 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:12 pm
    gastro gnome wrote:What sorts of "special treats" have you been receiving? Their website was pretty vague on this point.

    Two weeks ago, a little package of pre-made tart dough and last week a jar of honey. Yay.

    That's my biggest gripe with all of this: the value. For example, here were the contents of the first box: 1.5 lbs of rhubarb, 1 lb of asparagus, 1 quart of strawberries, and the aforementioned tart dough. You decide whether this is worth $30 to you. No complaints about the product (I think Klug's strawberries are routinely the best you can get around here, which is why I signed up), but I think it's a bit meager. I mean, maybe next week's "special treat" will be Apple stock, who knows.
  • Post #68 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:20 pm
    Post #68 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:20 pm Post #68 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:20 pm
    At the Waukesha Farmers Market, those would cost $13 minus the tart stuff. I bought those items on Saturday. I paid $5 for a quart of strawberries, $4 for a lb of asparagus, and $4 for a huge bundle of Rhubarb.
  • Post #69 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:29 pm
    Post #69 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:29 pm Post #69 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:29 pm
    There was also a large box.
  • Post #70 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:30 pm
    Post #70 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:30 pm Post #70 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:30 pm
    To answer my own question, we're doing the small share with Tomato Mountain and the standard size June share with Mick Klug. I've mentioned elsewhere that this resulted in some overlap as Tomato Mountain includes items from Mick Klug. That hasn't bothered me because I like the things we've gotten plenty of (asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries.) If not for our Tomato Mountain box, we would have never tried Hakurei turnips or green garlic. They were delicious but weren't things I would have normally picked up. Both offer "stores" to purchase items to add to the weekly box. The Tomato Mountain interface is a bit clunky. Klug uses the barn2door interface that I've seen others use and is a little better.

    I'm happy we're doing these CSAs. I like supporting the farmers and getting challenged with the weekly contents.
    -Mary
  • Post #71 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:38 pm
    Post #71 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:38 pm Post #71 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:38 pm
    cilantro wrote:
    gastro gnome wrote:What sorts of "special treats" have you been receiving? Their website was pretty vague on this point.

    Two weeks ago, a little package of pre-made tart dough and last week a jar of honey. Yay.

    I think the tart dough was the bonus. They listed the honey as being part of the box this week.

    cilantro wrote:That's my biggest gripe with all of this: the value. For example, here were the contents of the first box: 1.5 lbs of rhubarb, 1 lb of asparagus, 1 quart of strawberries, and the aforementioned tart dough. You decide whether this is worth $30 to you. No complaints about the product (I think Klug's strawberries are routinely the best you can get around here, which is why I signed up), but I think it's a bit meager. I mean, maybe next week's "special treat" will be Apple stock, who knows.

    I have struggled with this as well. I think their CSA pricing is in line with their farmers market pricing. My usual MO at the market is to look at quality and price. I'm paying a premium to not have to venture to the market and I'm okay with that this year. Besides, those strawberries are so good. :-)

    I went back and looked at Klug's email for the first week (6/6.) It looks like we were supposed to have received a jar of their raw honey plus the Chicago Fave item (which was the tart dough.) I wonder if something got lost when they pushed everything a week due to the protests that were going.
    -Mary
  • Post #72 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:45 pm
    Post #72 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:45 pm Post #72 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:45 pm
    My last Klug box also had peas.
    I’m fine with the price. It seems in line with their a la carte prices and their quality is high.
  • Post #73 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:47 pm
    Post #73 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:47 pm Post #73 - June 22nd, 2020, 2:47 pm
    I do the Nichols also, and agree with Ronnie. I only did a csa once in the past (cant remember which one) and this seems to be higher quality and significantly cleaner. Although I end up washing most of what I get, almost everything has been pre-washed to some degree and a lot of it is packaged in a pretty storage friendly format. I didnt think it would be big enough for 5 of us, but so far it has worked out, even with 3 twenty somethings in the house. Sometimes the portions of a single item are enough for all of us, other times I have to combine a couple. Having the full chef's share helps with this. It is not a great value, but I am glad I am doing it. One key is that I will be home pretty much all summer, so I wont miss more than a week or 2 at most. My last one I think I ended up picking up only about 2/3 of the boxes.

    -Will
  • Post #74 - June 22nd, 2020, 3:02 pm
    Post #74 - June 22nd, 2020, 3:02 pm Post #74 - June 22nd, 2020, 3:02 pm
    I love the hakurei turnips. I used to raise them in my garden, and I have also gotten a bunch of them at the Thanksgiving market at Emmanuel Lutheran church in Evanston from Henry Brockman. He sells them a lot cheaper at the end of his growing season. Henry seems to have the cheapest csa by far. I rent a garden from the city of Evanston, and plus I don't have anybody living with me, and so a csa would be too much for me. I noticed that some of the csa's are pricy though compared to Henry. Nichols have the best strawberries at the Evanston market. I got two quarts for $12 on Saturday. They were good, but they were not as good as they normally are.

    On a Facebook group that I belong to, somebody that lives in Waukegan is uncomfortable going to the farmer's market this summer, even though she has no problems going to Jewel, and so she has been ordering this huge box of produce occasionally that costs her $30. I suggested that she sign up for a csa, but she does not like the fact that you have to pay upfront, and some of those csa's charge $800 for the season, which she is not willing to do.
  • Post #75 - June 22nd, 2020, 3:07 pm
    Post #75 - June 22nd, 2020, 3:07 pm Post #75 - June 22nd, 2020, 3:07 pm
    The GP wrote:I went back and looked at Klug's email for the first week (6/6.) It looks like we were supposed to have received a jar of their raw honey plus the Chicago Fave item (which was the tart dough.) I wonder if something got lost when they pushed everything a week due to the protests that were going.

    Turns out the raw honey was bumped for strawberries.
    -Mary
  • Post #76 - June 25th, 2020, 11:47 am
    Post #76 - June 25th, 2020, 11:47 am Post #76 - June 25th, 2020, 11:47 am
    cilantro wrote:I mean, maybe next week's "special treat" will be Apple stock, who knows.


    1 qt. strawberries
    1 package frozen cherries
    1 bunch mint
    1 bottle RealGood Juice
    = $30


    Yeah, I'm out. Klug that noise.
  • Post #77 - June 25th, 2020, 11:59 am
    Post #77 - June 25th, 2020, 11:59 am Post #77 - June 25th, 2020, 11:59 am
    Yeah, I was a bit disappointed with this week's Klug box. But I imagine they didn't have enough fresh stuff to stock all of their boxes. I believe their email said that a small crop of peas and raspberries would be available at markets only. I happily signed up for their July boxes, though, because that's when we'll have a lot of their excellent fruit.
  • Post #78 - June 25th, 2020, 12:07 pm
    Post #78 - June 25th, 2020, 12:07 pm Post #78 - June 25th, 2020, 12:07 pm
    cilantro wrote:
    cilantro wrote:I mean, maybe next week's "special treat" will be Apple stock, who knows.


    1 qt. strawberries
    1 package frozen cherries
    1 bunch mint
    1 bottle RealGood Juice
    = $30


    Yeah, I'm out. Klug that noise.

    Technically, this box prices out just under $30. I would love more strawberries, but not at $10/quart in their on-line store. I know a number of vendors at the markets would give discounts when buying multiples. I think Klug does (or did.) I wish that option was available.

    I'm still debating if we do the July share. I do love getting the super fresh berries.
    -Mary

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