By Holly Hutchason, Executive Director, Pacific NW CSA Coalition
Did you know there are small farms all around the Portland area selling shares of their harvest to residents as a subscription?
The subscription is called a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, and the trend is growing locally, nationally, and around the world. The reasons are simple: People want delicious, nutritious, sustainably grown food, with as short a supply chain as possible.
Subscribing to a CSA “share” results in a weekly box of delicious vegetables throughout the harvest season. By becoming a member of a farm’s CSA program, you provide your farmer with the resources they need to grow your food at the start of the season.
In return, your farmer commits to giving you a “share” of their crop, and you receive the highest quality, sustainably grown food available, all season long.
Shares can vary by size and some are delivered every two weeks instead of weekly, depending on a person’s needs. Some farms include fruit and other options such as herbs, flowers, meat, fish, eggs and even mushrooms.
The concept of CSAs originated in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. There are roots in Japan and Europe, as well as in the US. In each case, the emphasis on a local food economy was a response to the increasingly understood negative effects of industrialized agriculture.
Today, we are seeing a surge in growth again due to many factors, including the pandemic and increased awareness of the effects of climate change.
CSA Farms in SE Portland
Farm Punk Salads (farmpunksalads.com) is a local “one stop salad shop.” Farming by hand with pesticide-free and organic practices, the farm grows salad greens and head lettuce. To pair with their greens, the farmers produce a line of non-GMO, gluten free, tahini-based salad dressings.
Their CSA is a weekly delivery of salad greens, culinary herbs and a bottle of salad dressing with a bi-weekly delivery of head lettuce and a sauté vegetable. CSA shares are delivered directly to homes by B-Line, a local bike delivery service.
Full Farm CSA (deckfamilyfarm.com/full-farm-csa) is a great option if you are looking for a full diet CSA. This CSA is a personally crafted program serving Portland, Eugene and Corvallis, where members choose which products they get each week to create a well-rounded, seasonal diet all year-round.
The FFCSA includes staples such as organic vegetables and grains, seasonal fruit, grass fed and pasture-raised meat, as well as animal fats (lard), honey, and walnuts.
Each box is lovingly tended and showcases the amazing range of colors and flavors in-seasonal vegetables.
In addition to market staples, CSA members get to try out the experimental and unique items not always available at a supermarket. Shares are available for pick-up or delivered to your door.
Portland Seedhouse (portlandseedhouse.com) offers culturally significant and heirloom varieties of vegetables with remarkable flavors and stories. Supporting the farm also means supporting the many years of important seed saving and biodiversity that not many other farms have. Over 300 heirloom varieties of vegetables are available.
Sweet Leaf Organic Farm (sweetleaforganicfarm.com) has been nourishing the Portland and Eugene areas for over 20 years. These farmers know their food because they also cook it – operating the Sweet Leaf Café; a mobile solar-powered restaurant that has served festival-goers at Sasquatch, Coachella and Woodstock ‘99. They partner with local fruit growers to get peaches, blueberries and even cranberries in your share.
How to sign up for a CSA
The farms listed above all service SE Portland and still have shares available. Signing up is easy.
1) Check out the above farms at their websites above or use the search tool pnwcsa.org/find-a-farm to find farms that sell CSA shares in your area.
2) Contact the farm to determine your share size and any add-on options that may be available.
3) Many farms accept SNAP for their shares – just ask! Also pnwcsa.org, can help stretch your dollar further with Double Up Food Bucks.
4) If you need help, send an email with your questions to email@example.com.
Photo by Pacific NW CSA Coalition