My spouse and I are huge fans of our local farmers market. It’s gotten to the point where we know our favorite vendors on a first name basis and we have our buying pattern pretty much down pat. Now that we’ve been going for a while, we’ve moved into CSA shares, or Community Supported Agriculture. For those who are unfamiliar with CSAs, you buy in on a farm’s crops for the year ahead of time, and then later will receive shares of the bounty, usually as a weekly box for 10-12 weeks. It gives farmers support for the upcoming year, and you’re directly supporting the farm you’re interested in.
This year we opted into a summer CSA with Collins Family Orchards, a vendor we usually buy most of our stone fruit from. Their “small” option was $17/week, and we chipped in the extra $4/week for home delivery. (It’s lovely to not walk all that fruit home.) This is a somewhat unusual CSA in that it’s a fruit only option, while most farms offer both fruits and vegetables.
What about the product makes me a repeat customer: Their fruit. Yes, the market team is lovely, and there’s a CSA member discount for any produce we end up buying at the market proper. However, I would not have bought in if the fruit wasn’t good. There are enough vendors at the market with similar price points that the cost is a minimal factor. Their peaches are epic, and that was enough for me.
There was one small bonus: when we ended up skipping one week’s delivery, we easily picked up the remaining order at the market, and got to pick what produce we wanted. This included effectively getting first dibs on some of their last plums of the season.
How the company stays in touch: Each week, the CSA team sends us an email the day before delivery. This generally includes information on what varieties were picked, tidbits such as if it’s the last week for plums or that these particular nectarines will need a few days to ripen, and a recipe using that week’s produce. We also receive reminders for when the CSA is starting and ending.
Incentives to tell others about the product: Their fruit. At least in my household, even the small box has ended up being too big. A lot of it gets frozen and stockpiled, or given to friends, and we’ll talk about the CSA while eating everything. Anyone who visits our house on a Wednesday generally ends up leaving with an apple or three.
We’ve already chipped in for the winter CSA, so I hope it’ll be equally delicious.