Local First Arizona's current Buy Local Week promo got us thinking more about keeping our hard-earned dollars and cents in the local economy. Farmers markets are great, but they don't stock all the sundries most folks need -- so that means at least two grocery shopping trips every week. Ugh.
That's where CSAs come in handy. If you're never heard of them, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, a local farmer offers "shares" of their crop.
Buy a share and you get a crate of fresh fruit and veggies (or nuts, dates, whatever crops that farm has available) every week throughout the farming season. The downside is that you usually have to pay for the whole season in advance. The upside is that you're guaranteed fresh produce.
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Where to find CSAs, after the jump.
Most locals have heard of Seacat Gardens or Maya's Farm by now, but there are actually a plethora of other small working farms around town, some of which offer CSAs. Here's a short list of some of the most popular local CSAs to get you started. Happy produce hunting!
- Desert Roots Farm in Queen Creek offers naturally grown vegetables and herbs. You can buy into any 12-week season for $276 (or $216 for a half-share, which just means a smaller box of veggies). Summer seasons are shorter and cost less. Desert Roots also has a meat, dairy and egg co-op for a separate fee, which knocks a few more items off any omnivore's grocery list.
- The produce at Love Grows Farms in Mesa is popular with local chefs. You can score a family share, share or half share of their organic or pesticide-free produce for between $205 and $405 per season.
- If you don't want to buy into a CSA for a whole season, there's always Green Bee Produce. For less than twenty bucks, you can get a "Bee Box" of fresh berries, fruits, greens and root veggies to feed a family of 4. Payment is weekly, so you can buy in only on the weeks you need fresh produce. Pickup locations are available throughout Phoenix and the East Valley.
- Tempe CSA offers products from Crooked Sky Farms. Pricing ranges from $216 to $300 per 12-week season, depending on when you sign up (early birds get the worm here). Refer a friend and get a week free. You can also buy into the Tempe CSA on a trial basis at $25 per week. In addition to produce, Tempe CSA stocks goat cheese, breads, coffee and other items from local companies.
- While not technically a CSA, you can lease an organically grown peach tree at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek for $195 per year and you'll get all the fruit your tree produces. You pick it, or they'll do it for $75 extra. The farm also offers by-the-pound U-Pick produce seasonally.