Community Supported Agriculture (CSA or Farm Share) in NYC

Last year, we signed up for a CSA for the first time, which was a bit of a stretch, because we weren’t living together yet. There was a clear division of labor: Salt Boy paid the fee, and Sugar Girl provided the labor (schlepping the resulting veg to and fro, and 4 volunteer hours over the course of the summer).

For various reasons, mostly involving compatible subway lines and minimal volunteer hours, we chose the Prince George CSA. We paid approximately $350 at the outset (to fund the farmer). That happened in early March, though some places want you to pony up by Jan or Feb. The vegetable onslaught began on June 10th, and I think I remember that it continued through early November. It’s something like 18-20 weeks of vegetables. There are still pickled (canned) carrots and kirby cucumbers in our hall closet, so you could argue we haven’t finished with the CSA yet.

Summary: pay your money before the season starts. Collect veg once a week through the season. Volunteer to work behind the check-in table for two two-hour blocks. Go home happy. Also, learn to work with new, tasty, fresh ingredients.

How much would you pay for a large reusable shopping bag full of veg at Whole Paycheck? If I run the average weekly share through the Fresh Direct website, it comes out to $20-$30, and you know the organic stuff at NYC prices is going to ring up at an even higher weekly cost. Although the volume varies from week to week, we were mostly vegetarian by the end of the summer and could never finish the share by the time the next pickup rolled around.

Here’s a listing of CSA’s in NYC.

Here are the ones we’re thinking about:

Chelsea CSA (Stoneledge Farm): 24 weeks of vegetables, 20 weeks of fruit; 1/2 hour walk or 16 minutes with a subway ride; pickup on Tuesdays 4-7; Standard veg share is $530, standard fruit share is $250; volunteer 4 hours per veg share, 2 hours per fruit share. Other stuff: coffee, honey, maple syrup.

Merchant’s Gate CSA: 22 weeks of veg, 20 weeks of fruit; $335 for a veg share, $240 for a fruit share; 4-6 hours total volunteer time; pickup at 417 West 57th Street (at 9th ave),  pickup Wednesday 3pm-7pm; other stuff: eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese.

Prince George CSA:  $360 for a veg share of 22 weeks, $200 for 20 week fruit share, pickup at 28th Street between 5th and Madison, pickup Thursdays 3:30pm-7:30pm; four hours volunteer time; other stuff: eggs, honey, maple syrup, granola, ground beef, chicken, butter.

We’re still deliberating on whether to stay with Prince George (where we were pretty happy) or try one of the others. Stay tuned for the gripping conclusion: which CSA will provide us with too much kale and zucchini?!