About Our CSA

What is a CSA?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between a farm and a community of responsible consumers.  It puts you, “the consumer” in direct relationship with the production of your food.  There are no unknown middlemen.  By paying for your produce upfront in the winter and springtime, you become the “shareholder” of the farm’s yearly harvest.  And each week during the growing season, you receive a portion of your share.

We, “the farmer”, also benefit by receiving payments at the beginning of the season, when we need them most, to buy seeds and supplies to produce the food.  This reduces the interest costs of loans to begin the season.  The CSA partnership is good for you, good for the farm, and good for the earth.

How our CSA works.

Knowing how many shareholders we must provide for, Farmer Dave’s plants a wide variety of vegetables and fruits in successive plantings to ensure an extended harvest.  By growing a range of crops that prefer and withstand different weather conditions, Farmer Dave’s ensures that the harvest will provide abundant flavors and colors for a full season.  Common favorites include award winning tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, many types of lettuce, sweet corn and broccoli.  Lesser known favorites include kousa squash, rosita eggplant, romanesco and brussel sprouts.

All the different crops ready for picking are harvested in the morning before the peak heat of the day.  The items are gently rinsed, arranged in crates and brought to the distribution site.

Each week we send out a newsletter containing farm notes of what is happening on the farm, as well as any needed site information.  There is a list of what we hope to harvest for you that week.  Mother Nature always has the final say so that list may vary.  We also include storage tips, links to recipes and Vegisodes which will help guide you with substitutions and ideas.  Many members have mentioned how much their cooking ability has improved working with different vegetables they might not have otherwise chosen.

If you miss your pick-up time any unclaimed shares that are remaining are donated to one of our hunger relief partners.  We are unable to replace shares that have been donated or keep shares past their distribution time.  We ask for 2 business days at minimum to change share locations.  Scheduling, harvesting and deliveries are part of this equation.  The more in advance we know the easier it is.  Please contact the office via phone or email as soon as you know that you need a change.  We will work with you to the best of our ability and will send you a confirmation if we are able to make that change.  You may also have a friend, family member or neighbor pick your share up for you.  Your name just needs to be given at pick-up.  Or feel free to contact us if you would like to have your share donated.

Why Join Farmer Dave’s CSA?

The Food: You get a wide range of fresh, delicious, healthy produce the whole season long.

Seasonal Eating: Connect to the local agriculture cycle by eating and cooking what is in season.

It’s Locally Grown: All of the vegetables that come in your CSA share are grown on our farm or when needed are obtained from a local farm with similar growing practices.

Convenience: We have pick-up locations in 20 different communities.

Your Carbon Footprint: Your produce is traveling far less than grocery store produce, which travels an average of 1500 miles! (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service)

The Environment: We are committed to growing produce sustainably and keeping the farmland ecosystem healthy.

The Farmland: “America is losing 1.2 million acres of farmland annually.” (American Farmland Trust)

By investing in a CSA, you are investing in preserving our local farmland.

The Economy: Farmer Dave’s provides many jobs and recycles money locally by purchasing supplies from local businesses.

Hunger Relief and Food Justice: Over the past 15 years, Farmer Dave has donated well over a million pounds of produce to area food banks and pantries including The Open Door, Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Catholic Charities, Greater Boston Food Bank, Lazarus House and the Zinberg Clinic at CHA.

Saves Money: On average to buy the same quality and quantity product received in the CSA, you would need to spend 20-50% more than the cost of the share.

Member Benefits

Add-Ons: Members are offered bulk order discounts during the season when we have a crop surplus during peak season.  Perfect for long term storage, canning and freezing!

Discounts on Farm Experiences: Seasonal hanging basket discounts as well as Strawberry & Blueberry pick your own specials. As always 25% off pick your own Apples.

Community:  Members find a broad range of support and community through other members, volunteers and staff at farm stands and CSA pick-up locations.  It is never hard to find someone passionate about food, recipes, the CSA and the farm any day of the week.  We also provide support and ideas through Facebook, Pintrest and our Vegisodes on YouTube.

Variety:  Our crops on the farm are rotated often, creating excellent growing conditions for all of our vegetables.  This allows us to distribute a wide sampling of produce for our members to try and enjoy.

Freshness:  The majority of our CSA vegetables and fruits are harvested within 24 hours of being delivered to any one of our 20 convenient locations.  We also offer home delivery in certain areas and delivery in the city by Metro Pedal Power for a fee.

Quality: We take great pride in what we do and CSA shares are always our first priority for harvest and distribution.  From our fields to your table, every person on Farmer Dave’s team keeps an eye on quality control.

Value: The dollar value of our CSA shares has always exceeded what members pay.  Giving back to our members is our way of thanking them for their support.

Support and Accessibility:  Donations from members and organizations make it possible for families in need to receive subsidized shares through Groundworks Lawrence and Cambridge Health Alliance.  We also accept EBT/SNAP/HIP benefits to purchase shares.

Swap Box: Each pick-up site has a box that consists of a complete vegetable share.  Members are given the option of swapping out one or two items from their vegetable share of equal value for something they are more interested in.  We ask that you limit this swap to two items per week to allow more members at your pick-up this opportunity.

Flexibility:  Our office staff will work with members in setting up payment plans and pro-rating payments.  We will work with members to the best of our ability to make changes to pick-up locations.

Share Options

Spring Share: Runs 14 weeks from early March to mid-June (the week before the summer season begins).  The spring share is the size of a small share and its content will vary as the weather changes.

Most weeks of the share will include a mix of fresh baby greens from our greenhouses and a myriad of storage crops such as potatoes, carrots, beets, celeriac and apples.  As the weather warms and harvesting permits extras may be included as the crops mature.

Vegetable Share: Runs 20 weeks from mid-June to late October.

Two sizes are offered for the vegetable share a small and regular size:

The small share is appropriate for 1 to 2 adults or a family with very young children, depending on eating habits.

The regular share is appropriate for 2 to 4 adults, depending on eating habits.

The variety and amounts of vegetables fluctuate with the time of the season and harvest conditions.

Pre-boxed share option are available at all pick-up locations.  The shares are packed into reuseable crates at the farm and delivered to the pick-up location.  The members pick-up their crate to bring home.  The member returns the empty crate  the following week and exchanges it for the next share.

Choice-style share options are available at our CSA pick-up locations in Burlington, Dracut, Tewksbury, and Reading.  Members bring their own bags to transport their shares home.  That share is set up like a farmers market and there are signs indicating how much produce to take depending on the share size and whether it is a choice between items.  There will be a CSA volunteer or staff member to walk the member through the process.

There is not a difference in value between the choice vs pre-box options.  There will be certain items that you can make the choice between vs the farm making the choice for the pre-box option.

Fruit Share: Runs for 20 weeks from mid-June to late October.

The fruit share comes in one size and feeds 1 to 4 people, depending on how much fruit your family eats and the time of the season.

The first few weeks of the season the shares are smaller in volume and contain apples stored from the previous harvest and fresh strawberries.  As the season progresses the variety and volume increases and may include raspberries, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, melons, and different varieties of apples, pears and more.

Farmer Dave’s is currently growing most of the fruit in the shares and is working toward growing all. Until the farm is able to provide all the fruit, Farmer Dave’s will get fruit as needed from local farms in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that use environmentally sustainable methods.

Late Fall Share: Runs for 7 weeks from late October through mid-December.

Two sizes are offered for the late fall share a small and a regular.

The small share is appropriate for 1 to 2 adults and the regular share is appropriate for 2 to 4 adults depending on eating habits.  If properly stored, many of the winter vegetables and apples will keep well into January.

Harvest and weather permitting the late fall share may include:  Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, celeriac, turnips, winter squash, leeks, winter greens, spinach, lettuce and apples.

Depending on when the last frost of the season occurs, warm weather crops may be included early in this share.

Should I get a choice-style share or pre-box share?

Depending on your pick up location you may have this option. If your schedule is tight during pick-up time or if you arrive later during the pick-up time but would prefer more variety a pre-box share might be for you. Choice-style does take a little more time and what is available near the end of pick-up will vary from week to week. It is dependent on the harvest and what other members that arrived earlier in the pick-up time chose.

I forgot my empty crate.

If you do not have your empty crate at CSA pickup, we ask that you transfer your share to a reusable bag. Consider having an extra bag or two in your vehicle or office. The farm has a limited amount of crates and if just a few members do not bring their empty crates back we begin to run short. We would rather not use cardboard boxes as it works against our sustainability practices and can get expensive.

Can I split a share?

You are welcome to split a share with someone else, but must coordinate that on your own. You can alternate every week with who picks up the share. Splitting the share at the CSA pick-up is also an option, just be sure to bring bags as additional crates cannot be used. Once you begin a season if you find that the small share quantity is not sufficient your share size can always be increased for the remainder of the season.

Can I switch from a choice-style share to a boxed share or vice versa?

If your initial choice is not working out for you, you can change your preference for the remainder of the season. Keep in mind if you are changing to a choice-style and your home site does not have that as an option, you would need to change your pick-up location. Please contact the office via call or email and we will assist you.

I like to plan my meals ahead of time, will I know what produce I am getting in my share?

Usually, the day before your CSA pickup, you will receive an email newsletter letting you know what is expected in your share. We always say Mother Nature has the final say on what is harvested and we cannot always predict what those items may be. If the weather differs by 10 or 20 degrees, we have downpours or cool, cloudy days this can affect the items and the quantity harvested. These choices are made so the product that is put in the hands of the members is at its peak and we keep our plants healthy so they keep producing for us through the season. We encourage members to have many meals in their repertoire and substitute ingredients. There are so many recipes where ingredients can be swapped out. If you need ideas we are always here to help. Part of the CSA adventure is to eat with the season and what is available.

How can I sign up for the e-newsletter?

The e-newsletter is sent to the email address provided at CSA registration. If there are two of you splitting a share please provide the other members email as well. Our newsletters come through Constant Contact, if you are not receiving them please check that it is not going to your spam folder. Email us at farm@farmerdaves.net and we will look into it for you.

I have too much food! Any ideas?

At certain points of the season the shares are abundant. That abundance of beautiful, in season produce presents a great opportunity to enjoy the items in the off season. Whether it is fruit or vegetables, preserve it by canning, freezing, dehydrating or fermenting. Make chilis, soups and casseroles, wrap and freeze. Check out our food preservation links, favorite cookbooks and recipe blog. Share the produce with neighbors and friends or leave the produce in the swap box and it will be donated to one of our hunger relief partners.

Can I buy larger quantities of some produce for freezing, pickling, fermenting or canning?

We offer bulk add-ons during certain weeks when there is more than enough in the fields to provide for the CSA members, an email will be sent to the CSA members with the add-on availability for the upcoming week. If Mother Nature changes her plan then the availability of certain items may be shorter than expected.

Is the CSA less expensive than getting my vegetables elsewhere?

You can always find food cheaper somewhere else, but we have found that for the same quality vegetables grown with similar methods, the CSA can save the shareholder a lot of money, especially during the main season (June through December). Every year, the weather determines if there is an abundant crop or not. In the years that the harvest is bountiful, the CSA members benefit by receiving more vegetables in their share, which increases the savings. The opposite is true in years when the crops don’t do well. This highlights the very unique relationship between the farmer and the CSA member in that the CSA member shares the risks and also the rewards of farming that the farmer experiences. For the main and late season (June through December), CSA members have consistently received a much better value than they would have paid for the same product elsewhere. The spring shares are still an excellent value, but cost more per week than the main season shares due to increased production costs involved in storing roots and growing inside a greenhouse. By supporting Farmer Dave’s CSA you not only receive the freshest produce around, but you are helping to sustain a small, local farm, in a food culture that favors large agribusinesses that utilize natural resources and land unsustainably.

What do I do when I get behind on my fruit share?

Our fruit is picked at its peak of ripeness for maximum flavor and nutrition. We suggest taking a quick inventory of your fruit and determine what needs to be eaten sooner rather than later. Berries need to be eaten sooner but are easy to freeze unwashed then used later, if you find yourself with extra. Stone fruit can be sliced, removed from the pit, dipped in lemon juice and frozen on a sheet tray and bagged for use later in pies, breads, smoothies, jams etc. With apples and pears consider making sauce or butter then can or freeze. Pies and crisps can be made and frozen for later as well. Melons and be pureed and frozen or cut into a large dice and frozen on a sheet tray then bagged, plenty for making smoothies and cocktails.

Does Farmer Dave’s offer payment plans or can SNAP benefits be used?

Yes! To request a payment plan or a SNAP contract please email farm@farmerdaves.net and let us know your name, email, phone number, what shares you are interested in and the pick-up location you would like. Our office number is 978-349-1952. A staff member will get back to you.

If I have any questions about my pick-up, my share or items in my share, who do I contact?

We are always here to answer questions! The Office number is 978-349-1952 and email is farm@farmerdaves.net. Ask away!