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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
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  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
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  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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This week I did future grocery shopping.  I didn’t get to any stores but instead used some of our leftover grocery budget money to buy a share in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm for the spring.  We’ve never done this before, but I am beyond excited!

What is it?

CSA Farms are local farms that sell straight to the consumer.  You buy a share at the beginning on the season and then each week you’ll get a box of what is fresh and ripe that week.  It has a ton of benefits for everyone.  The farmer has a guaranteed buyer for their crop.   The consumer has produce that was picked at peak ripeness and delivered to them the next day.  Another fun benefit to me, your box will have some vegetables you’ve never tried before… meaning it’s time to get out a cookbook and get creative!

There is a little risk involved in a CSA so do your homework first.  If it is a bad season then your box might not be as big as you wanted or if a blight happens on one crop you might not have any radishes that season in your box (fine by me).

Why did we do it?

Produce is very expensive and with trying to eat healthier we have started to basically buy double the amount of veggies we were.  This made getting a share a savings for us. I’m curious too with the news reports that produce prices will double this year how much more we will save getting local produce.  The farm that we picked also let you pick what size share you wanted!  That sold me right then. Oh and there is a box drop site half a mile from my house!!  Lastly this fits great with homeschool this year as we are learning about plants and have our own little garden growing.  Most CSA’s let you tour “your farm” and get to know your farmers and we can’t wait to do this!

If you want to find a farm near you or to get more info on the idea, check out LocalHarvest.com they have a massive directory of over 4,000 CSA’s so hopefully you can find one nearby.  (They also have ratings and reviews so you can do some homework on the farms near you.)

One thing to remember

No area is conducive for growing every vegetable or fruit.  So your farm is not going to be able give you everything you could possibly want.  You will probably still need to buy some fruits from the store.

Okay now for folks who went “present day” grocery shopping:

How did you do in your grocery shopping this week?  Leave a comment or a link to your savings post. (Links to pages other than savings posts will be deleted).

    • Troispetitsprinces

      I’ve participated in CSAs for years until last year, I joined a new one and got burned. Living in North Central Florida, most of the crops were destroyed by hard freezes. Instead of the CSA crediting its members for future renewals, they told us we were just out of luck. After some searching, I found an organic co op that purchases produce in bulk and I get a weekly box of fruits and veg. Most CSAs only do veg and I will tell you that my whole family loves the fruit! If anyone is thinking about joining as CSA, I advise you to ask your farmer, what will happen if there is some sort of disaster? Get the answer in writing! Ask for contact info of current and previous members. Call them and find out what they like and don’t like and why the previous members left. If the farmer is truly honorable, he/she will have no problems giving you this information. Sadly, CSAs are like most things in life: Caveat Emptor (aka, Buyer Beware)!
      And do a google search on your farm and farmer. After my poor experience, I found a lot of bad press on my farmer that I wish I had seen before! Lastly, don’t overlook co ops. I am guaranteed produce and a wonderful variety. If you live in the central Fla area, check out http://homegrowngainesville.wordpress.com/. There are also deliveries to Ocala and north Lake county.

      • Elyn

        You do know that the entire point of a CSA is that the risk is spread across all the members. It is an investment and almost all of them include the risk that if the crop fails, you don't get food or a refund. The point is that you are supporting small farmers. There is nothing dishonorable about a CSA doing exactly what a CSA needs to do in the case of a disaster.

        • JessicaJ

          Exactly! It says specifically several places on their website the idea of “shared risk” If you don't want to share the risk, don't do it!!

    • Melissa S.

      Use CSA through Thornhill Farms in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Visit ourlocalfoods.com for more info. on their Kitchen Table Cuisine program also.

    • Pfamcoupons

      We invested last year into two CSA's a meat one and veggie one. The meat CSA was massive. We still have almost 1/2 the meat and CSA stopped in October. We will continue to invest in the veggie one. I am glad to see this topic brought up. Thanks Jenny!

    • Amiejoy

      What kind of cost are we talking? I looked up the one for the Charlotte area and I was shocked. Yes I am sure that it is cheaper than the grocery store but that's a great of money at once. Jenny do you think it is higher based on the area? Do you have any advice?

      • Mamakat

        We have participated in two diferent seasons at Bush N Vine farms in York, SC. It was awesome! We still have collards and peas in our freezer from the fall. I just paid $210 for a medium share (enough for 3-4 people) for 12 weeks. Springs Farm in Ft Mill is offering a CSA this Spring as well, if you're in South Charlotte.

    • This is the best thing I have seen all day ! there is one near me ! I am so going to do this !!

    • aolss

      Ours worked out to $22-23 per week and I think we easily averaged that much each week. Plus we had several u-picks at the farm. Last year was our first year and we really enjoyed. Two big things that came out of it were that we were pushed into trying new veggies (kids included) and we ate a lot more vegetables to keep stuff from going bad.

    • amy

      We did this last year. I was stressed sometimes trying to use 10 peppers in one week. I did learn to be very creative though!

      • Melanie

        Peppers freeze really well. I cut off the tops and bottoms of bell peppers, remove the seeds and wash, slice in quarters and let dry and put in a freezer bag. I use them in any cooking recipe. You can also freeze stuffed bell peppers. I freeze hot pepppers by just washing and letting dry and then use in any cooking recipe.

    • Bee

      I looked into several area options and they are all just too costly for me. I know it only averages to about $30 a week, but that is a large commitment, not knowing what my needs would be in the future. All of these farmers also sell at our local farmers' markets, so I don't see why I couldn't go to farmer's market when the need arises.

      There is also a fruit/vegetable stand very close to my house and while the vegetables come from Florida, they are always affordable and high quality.

    • Andrea the Greenbacksgal

      So glad you're promoting CSAs! Go Jenny!

    • NolaGirl

      The Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans is offering Louisiana Seafood Community Supported Fisheries shares during Lent. It's a really good deal, and nothing beats a po'boy made with fresh wild caught Louisiana shrimp.

    • Elyn

      I was a member of Pinckney's last year and loved it. I'm skipping this one because of travel plans but it was a really good experience. Enjoy!

    • Kelly

      I love that you posted this.!

    • susiela

      I like the idea of CSA but never found one to meet my needs, so instead I've been using Papa Spud's, which is an online farmers market in the Raleigh/Durham area. I pick what I want each week, and have it delivered to my door, and I can skip delivery (no charge) for weeks that I don't need it. They focus on local/organic suppliers for produce, milk, eggs, baked goods, beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and other products. The prices are reasonable (compared to same/similar items at Whole Foods), and it has encouraged me eat more fruits/veggies and to try different things. Customer service is great too. I've been using Papa Spud's for over two years and am very satisfied!

      • Anyone have comments about The Produce Box in the Triangle? From what I understand, it's the same idea as Papa Spuds. I've gone back and forth about whether to join. I love the idea of supporting local farmers. I think it's so important. It's tough that it's just my husband and I, and I think a lot would go to waste. There's a new farmer's market coming very close to my work, and I hope to try that out weekly and see how it goes. Just curious if anyone had a comparison of Produce Box vs. Papa Spuds?

    • Theaikenparrs

      Thanks for posting this Jenny! We are BIG supporters of local organic farms and have had shares for the last several years. Thanks again for all you do!

    • Ronda

      I am so glad you posted this.I went straight to the site found a farm in my area and emailed them with my questions.I love this idea and never knew about this before.Thanks for posting.

      • Katkoupon

        Can you share some of your questions, if you don't mind? My husband and I are very excited about one we found close by, but I don't really know what to ask. Sorry if this sounds weird, just thinking we'll forget something important to ask in all our excitement. Thanks!

    • Elina Ivon

      On the CSA farm thing…do you have to pay them in advance the entire amount or do you pay weekly/monthly?

      • NolaGirl

        At the Crescent City Farmers Market in New Orleans we have the option of choosing weekly or full pay. The weekly fee is a bit more ($20 vs an average of just over $14).

      • sarahcas

        It really depends on the farm. The one I'm looking at doing you can either pay the entire amount at once or pay in two installments (although they're both due before you start receiving produce).

    • kori

      I've recently started getting a produce share from an organic co-op. We love it!! I split it with a friend. $25 every other week ($50 total for the box). Like Jenny said, we've had to try some new things… kale, bok choy, etc. and have enjoyed it all along with some of our favorites. And as somone below said, we are eating more produce and we go out to eat less so that we use up our share. Not about to let $25 of fresh organic produce go to waste!! During the summer/fall we may switch over to a local farm.

    • Livserge331

      Our only local CSA here in Brunswick GA is chronically full. I've been checking with it on and off since late 2005 and there's never an opening when I check. And I agree, for a small family like mine (no kids) $25 a week is a lot of money to spend on just the produce. And we eat a lot of veggies (he's a vegetarian!) I think they sell half-shares too, not that it matters anyway since we can't get in. They sell the extra of what's coming in heavily, but I haven't looked into how to buy that. I need to just stop at the farmer's market near my work more often.

    • Michelle

      So glad to see you getting into supporting the local movement, Jenny. I'm sure your and your family's health will benefit, and so will the environment. Kudos.

    • Shirley

      Wow, this is great, thank you so much for posting! Been wondering how I should go about searching for a farm that I can get my produce from. I looked and actually found an organic farm with an option of about $12/wk, perfect for just the two of us. Plus, it allows us to pick and choose our produce depending on our needs for that week. Awesome!

    • Donna

      Thanks for the post. I always forget to look for a local CSA BEFORE it starts up. I might have caught it this time. One of the “local” (hour drive for pickup) farms also participates in an online farmers market. They're holding a “Meet the Growers” event TOMORROW (in Cumming, GA). A GREAT opportunity to meet the CSA-farm owner (and market co-founder) and discuss the expense and expectations for both.

    • Misty

      Awesome! My family has done a CSA for the past four years. The first year is a learning curve of what to do with everything you get. I normally freeze all the excess and have plenty for winter. The university of Georgia has a great website about freezing veggies…
      http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/uga/uga_freeze_veg.pdf
      Also, one of my favorite cookbooks is Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman Wert. It is broken down by season and item so it is easy to find a recipe for every veggie you get in your box.
      You will be shocked by how great everything tastes, so much better than what you can buy at the grocery store! Hope you enjoy!

    • Josh

      I don't quite get how a CSA works. On the description of the one closest to me, it says full harvest is $200 and lite harvest is $160. How does that work though? I mean how much food will that get you?

      • Astridholliman

        It all depends on the farm. You'll have to contact them to find out

    • Brandy

      I didn't know you homeschooled!

    • danielle

      Jenny, I think it is awesome that you are supporting CSAs- It's better for the environment, for the community and for our bodies.

    • Jennifer

      Thanks for the information. I found one in our town. It's $25 per week during growing season for a full share and they also offer work shares where you go and work 4 hours per week for your share. I may do both since we have a large family.

    • Nikki

      The Publix in Valdosta Ga has stopped taking Target coupons b/c it isn't a Super Target… :-(

    • Astridholliman

      So glad you posted this! I've been wanting to do it for years but I keep forgetting… Just looked one up in my area that I like and they have a couple open spots so hopefully I'll get in. Yeah!

    • Beallteam

      Loved this post! I think our picky family is going to shop individually at our several local organic farms and I am also looking into buying local, grass fed beef. One even lets you volunteer and learn from them!