Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

By | May 11, 2007


What is a CSA?
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it is a service where a local farm will deliver its fresh vegetables and fruits directly to your part of town just for you. This happens usually on a weekly basis, and the veggies are only those that are in season at that moment. The veggies are always freshly picked, and you get them for much cheaper than you would at the store. An additional benefit is that you are spending your money on your community by supporting the local farmers.

I meant to post this article months ago, but as it turns out, it isn’t too late to still sign up for your local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership!!! I’m not sure about the availablility of all of them, but Harvest Valley Farms definitely still has open slots, and they recently added two drop-off locations for CMU and Chatham employees.

What CSAs are there in Pittsburgh?
None of the CSAs in Pittsburgh deliver straight to your door, but some of them have nearby delivery locations (as near as a block away from your house). The following is a short list of the ones that deliver to the city or near the city. There are many more to choose from, if you would like to pick up your veggies from the farm.

Kretschmann Farm
~June 1st – Thanksgiving, plus optional winter deliveries
~Price: Small Share: ~$20/week
They have over 30 drop off sites in and around the city, and there is sure to be one very close to your home. This farm is all organic, has excellent business and hiring practices, and you can tell them veggies you never want, or veggies you want lots of. Finally, you can get fair-trade organic coffee, locally raised free-range chickens, and locally raised free-range beef. Reed and I used Kretschmann Farm last year, and we were pretty happy with it. Sometimes the veggies, especially the greens, were full of bugs and slugs, but I think this is to be expected with entirely organic produce. In general, the staff is very caring about the quality of their product.

Harvest Valley Farms
~May 31 – November 8th
~Price: Small Share: ~ $17/week
This farm has many fewer drop-off sites, but there are some in the city. It seems from the application that you can’t choose your veggies, but it isn’t clear. It isn’t entirely organic, but their philosophy is to use the least amount of chemical pesticides necessary. They just added Chatham and CMU as drop-off sites for the university employees.

Cherry Valley Organics
~Price: A la carte, so it changes every week
This one has only a couple of drop off sites, none of which are in the city. The drop off sites are mostly in the suburbs (Mt Lebanon, Sewickley, etc) but they seem open to forming new drop off sites to meet member needs. One interesting thing about Cherry Valley organics is that you can choose every veggie you want every week – it is sort of a la carte CSA. You can get chicken, beef, pork, and eggs also through them.

Wilden Family Farms (PORK ONLY)
~Price: Full Share Sampler: $67 (~16 lbs of pork, of various cuts). Extra for additional a la carte meats.
They have all different cuts of pork available. The cottage bacon is especially delicious, like Italian Pancetta. It looks like they might deliver through the above-listed Harvest Valley Farms, or to Laptop Butchershop in Pittsburgh.

I was extremely pleased with my CSA membership last year, as were several other people I know who got one. If you would like to know more about it before you purchase one, just email me – I am happy to talk more about it!