Monday, May 16, 2011

CSA Week 1: Reds, greens and a little bit of blue

I've always wanted to join a Community Sponsored Agriculture farm, call it one of my goals in my Culinary Bucket List. So I finally signed up for a CSA share through Clayhill Farms in Suffolk, Va. This past Saturday I received my very first delivery:

The delivery included four large cucumbers, 5 zucchini, half a pound of strawberries, half a pint of blueberries, two green peppers and two humongous red peppers. The idea with CSA's is that you invest in the farm and they return that investment with fruit and vegetables. This size share costs me $21 a week, which I paid upfront. I then receive 20 weeks of shares. Considering I'm supporting a local farm and I get access to some of the freshest and most delicious produce I've had in a while, this is pretty much a win-win.

Every week I'll share with you the price breakdown so we can really see if these shares are worth it. I'll price it all at Harris Teeter, since that is where I would normally buy my produce. Also, I'll price for organic (when I can), since Clayhill Farms uses an organic method called integrated pest management. They define IPM as "we work with nature ( Praying Mantii, ladybugs, bees, and butterflies) and use natural techniques (like crop rotation, companion planting, crop and pest scouting, and drip irrigation) to eliminate pesticide and chemical use on our fruits and veggies."

Price breakdown
  • A pound of organic strawberries: $4.99
  • 1 pint of non-organic blueberries: $4.99
  • 4 organic cucumbers: $11.96
  • 2 organic green bell peppers: $4.98
  • 2 organic red bell peppers: $7.98
  • 5 organic zucchini: $6.54
      • TOTAL COST: $41.44
That's a bit steep. But I have to admit that I wouldn't normally go for the organic, since my wallet is currently more important to me (shame, I know). But here's the thing, even going for the cheapest versions (at Harris Teeter, that is), I'm still saving money. A similar price check, this time focusing on the cheapest choices, resulted in a total of $27. That includes a pretty awesome sale on strawberries, so next week it would be even more expensive. So, this week at least, I'm saving money and my health. 

I'll update later with a list of the delicious meals I've made out of my yummy veggies. 


  1. I love CSA, we've had one at ODU this past year that included a social every Friday with the veg pick up- beer, wine, and food to eat as well! This looks like quite the spread :-)

  2. I always buy organic fruits and veggies (and meat, eggs, and milk). I know it's more expensive, and obviously significantly more expensive with your comparison, but it's one of those things I justify to myself by telling myself it's better for me. During the winter I tend to buy my fruits and veggies at either Whole Foods or Trader Joes; I don't cook too much, so I don't go through them quickly. Now that it's spring, however, I've been getting them from a farmer's market near work, and all the produce is super-local (like, no more than about two hours away). It's all wonderful.

    If I cooked more, I would probably join a CSA, but I just don't.