How to choose the right CSA for you

Pepe Diaz of the Diaz Farm sells bread and vegetables at the farm’s store.

Joining a CSA for the first time can be intimidating, especially with the many options we have here in Boulder County. Here are some things to consider when choosing the right one for you.

First of all, what exactly is a CSA? It stands for  Community Supported Agriculture, and is essentially a subscription box with a local farm. For a flat fee, you will receive a weekly box of the freshest foods (usually vegetables). By purchasing these boxes, the community helps with the start-of-season costs, creating a symbiotic relationship between the farmer and the consumer.

Mark Guttridge of Ollin Farms, whose been running his CSA for seven years, says a main benefit of a CSA is making “a commitment to eat healthier.”

“You get in the routine of having fresh food and it can change your eating habits,” he says.

With a CSA, you and your family will have consistent access to healthy and fresh ingredients. Some people may even receive vegetables they aren’t familiar with, which means you can expand your culinary horizons.

Mimi Yanus: Mimi’s Garden, Boulder Susan France

With a CSA you’ll be getting a weekly box of vegetables, so it’s important to make sure you actually enjoy cooking your meals, or else the food (and your money) may be going to waste.

It is also important to consider location and convenience when choosing a CSA. Some farms offer a delivery service or a drop-off point, but most require that you go to the farm to pick up your weekly box. Make sure you’re choosing a farm you can get to regularly and with ease if that is the case.

Before choosing which farm’s CSA you want to join, it is important to consider what you can afford, as well as how much food you’ll need. Many farms offer different-sized subscriptions from small- to family-sized. It may also be a good idea to have a person whom you know might want excess food if you run into a week where you can’t finish off the box.

One of the most rewarding benefits of a CSA is getting to know the farmers and picking the brain of the person that is actually growing your food. Take advantage of their knowledge and experience. More than anyone else, the farmers running their CSAs will be able to help you understand what you’ll be getting from this service. Guttridge adds that getting to know the farmers is a great way to make sure that the farm’s values and ideals line up with your own.

A CSA can help provide individuals or families with a steady stream of fresh and healthy options. Guttridge says a large inspiration for his farm’s CSA was “want[ing] to give these people the healthiest food possible; that’s how Ollin Farms started.” With the plethora of CSA options here in Boulder County, the right option for you is certainly out there.