Times are scary, y’all. But in the midst of all the chaos, it’s beautiful to see how communities are coming together (while still managing to stay at least six feet apart). I’m sure you’ve noticed a “back to basics” vibe on social. My Instagram feed is flooded with photos of incredibly delicious homemade breads, lots of recipes and ideas for homemade cleaners, and shots of fabric masks that look straight out of a Reformation lookbook.
I don’t want to minimize the trauma that everyone is experiencing and am not trying to make this a “silver linings” post but I do want to talk about food, community and eating locally.
Now that a lot of us are stuck at home, there has been a huge resurgence in interest of locally grown foods. Kathleen Finlay wrote a thoughtful article in The Boston Globe about how this pandemic is increasing the demand for local food.
CSAs are a great way to eat local and support the farmers in your community. CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture” and is, in my opinion, the best way to get quality food while keeping a low footprint. If you’re new to CSAs or are looking for recommendations, we’ll go over the basics below and even call out a few of our favorite farms in Portland. If you’re not in Portland, check out this link to find a CSA in your state.
How do CSAs work?
A farm will offer a certain number of “crop shares” to the community before harvest begins. These shares function as a sort of subscription service and during the growing season, folks that bought a share (we’ll call them members) will pick up their weekly or bi-weekly shares, either at the farm or at a pre-determined location (maybe a farmers market or a brewery). Some CSAs will deliver right to your house, some CSAs will let you choose product but others choose for you, and the amount of food you get and the duration of the deliveries are all going to vary based on the farm. The classic arrangement is produce but some farms will offer eggs, dried beans, honey or even meat, depending on what is grown at the farm.
Why is this important?
What’s really nice about this arrangement is that farmers get money ahead of the season, which helps them to make purchases of any equipment or supplies they need to farm for the season. And you get access to super fresh, local food and have the opportunity to have a relationship with the people who grow your food. Farms will often host their members for a day during the season so you get to see where your food is grown. You’ll be encouraged to try new produce and you might even find a new favorite veggie in your weekly box. Not to mention, since this food is hyperlocal, it’s more sustainable as transport will require less CO2 emissions than trucking refrigerated produce from coast to coast.
Okay, I’m excited, how do I sign up?
For our Portland friends, y’all are lucky you have so many options. We recommend acting quickly because shares are selling out fast.
This my CSA! I absolutely adore the farmers, Andrea and Taylor. Their season is 23-weeks long and they have three pick-ups locations; two in the gorge, one at the farm on Tuesday afternoons or at Hood River Farmers Market on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Or if you’re in Portland, grab a beer at my favorite Portland brewery, Migration Brewery (the one on Glisan) on Tuesdays from 4-6 p.m.
Love Farms take SNAP and have 10 CSA Pick-up LOCATIONS within the Portland metro-area. They offer a 23-week veggie CSA with the option to add on berries for 10 weeks during the summer.
Stone Boat offers a 24-week veggie CSA. Because of the virus pick-up options are still TBD but normally are Tuesdays at the Hillsboro farm from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m., Saturday at the Hollywood Farmers Market in NE Portland and Sundays at the Orenco Station Farmers Market in Hillsboro.
The veggie share runs from May 24 to October 31 and the microgreens share runs from from April 12 to May 16. The pick-up for this farm is at Ash Tree Farms in Vancouver, Washington.
This Gresham-based farm CSA is seasonal and you can sign up for a share during spring, summer or fall. You can sign up for one, two or three seasons. The full season will run from May 29th to October 22nd with a weekly pickup in the Portland Metro area.
This farm’s season runs June 3 to November 18 with a Wednesday delivery. There are eight pick-up options in the Portland metro-area and one in Vancouver, Washington. They accept SNAP and have access to Double-Up Food Bucks through PACSAC.
This Gresham-based farm offers 22 weeks of vegetables, from June through October. There are four pick-up locations with two in Portland. Members of this CSA get to choose their share, which means you’ll never end up with a veggie you don’t want.
Juniper Lane has a creative CSA alternative. Instead of getting a weekly box, you buy a Market Card, which essentially functions as a gift card. You get 10 percent off of any purchase at any market where the farm is selling during their season, which runs May through October.
The women behind the delicious Farm Punk Salad dressings, offer a weekly home delivered salad subscription complete with salad greens, head lettuce, culinary herbs and salad dressing. They offer two 12-week seasons or you can sign up for the full 24-week season, May 18-October 26 at a discount.
Fox + Bear is a one-farmer operation offering 25 weeks of freshly harvested produce (6-11 items of produce a week) from May to November. The farmer, Katie Boeh, uses biologically intensive, organic growing methods in the production of all Fox + Bear crops.
This farm offers 22 weeks of fresh, local, and organically grown vegetables and fruits. The CSA shares typically begin delivery in mid-June and have pick-up locations from Olympia, Washington to Portland, Oregon.
Sprout and Blossom’s CSA runs for 22 weeks, June 4 though October 30 with pick-up locations in Vancouver, Washington; SE Portland and North Portland. The farm offers vegetables with limited amounts of herbs, fruit and edible flowers.
Okay, so, MilkRun isn’t technically a CSA but it is a way for Portlanders to get access to radically local food delivered right to their doorstep. We love it because it’s woman-run and 70 percent of the purchase price goes back to the farms, compared to the 10 percent average that farmers tend to get from grocery stores.
There are many more CSA options in Portland, but we unfortunately couldn’t fit them all in this roundup. If you have a favorite CSA that deserves a shout out, let us know. And as always, we’d love to hear your thoughts, recommendations and suggestions about eating local, so please share them in the comments below.