What is a CSA?
CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture programs, connect consumers directly with local farms. CSA members sign up for a season-long (summer and/or fall) veggie box, and receive freshly harvested, in-season produce from the farms once a week.
Being part of a CSA connects you with the joys and challenges of farming. Depending on that season’s weather, certain crops will flourish, while others may be less abundant. By becoming a CSA member, you directly support farmers as they deal with the season's challenges, and you reap the benefits of the season's successes! You also know that you are eating what is in season in our local area. For farmers, CSA programs are helpful because they provide a guaranteed market that farmers can plan around. In addition, because CSA members pay at the beginning of the season, farmers get a much needed infusion of cash in the spring - which is typically a time when there are a lot of expenses on farms, but not much money coming in.
How does the Co-op work?
Shared Ground is a cooperative owned by 7 local farms. It was founded in 2014 by 3 Latino and 2 Anglo-run farms (see more about our history). Today, 6 of the 7 owner farms are owned by immigrants, and the Co-op board has decided that moving forward, membership in the Co-op will only be open to immigrant farms. The Co-op board is made up 5 elected representatives from the owner farms, and they make the decisions about the direction and future of the Co-op.
The owner farms supply the majority of the produce for the CSA. The remaining produce comes from 10-15 local partner farms, who follow sustainable production practices and support Shared Ground's mission of increasing market access for immigrant and minority farmers. Shared Ground’s multi-farm model means that you get a diverse variety of produce!
Are the vegetables organic?
Some of Shared Ground’s farms are certified organic, and some are in the process of getting certified. All of the farms grow using sustainable practices (no chemicals, no GMOs). Several of our owner farms are also GAP (Good Agricultural Practice) certified.
What is a typical box like?
The box comes in two sizes: a half share (good for 1-2 people) and a full share (good for a family). Boxes contain 6-12 different veggies, and usually include at least 1 herb. We try to give you a mix of popular veggies, along with a few more unusual items! Recipes and suggestions on how to cook the more unusual veggies are included in the weekly newsletter. You can see a sample of 2017 boxes here.
How do I pick up my box?
You select a pickup site when you sign up for the CSA. A few weeks before the CSA starts, we will send you an email with details about your pickup location and the contact information for your site host. All boxes are labeled with the CSA member’s name and share size, so when you get to your host site, please take the box with your name on it!
What if I forget my box?
Each pickup site has its own policy about forgotten boxes, which will be explained in your pick up site logistics email. Many sites hold onto forgotten boxes for a day to give people a chance to pick them up – however, some sites do not have the storage capacity to do this, so they donate any boxes that are left at the end of the pick up window. Please remember to get your box!
What if I need to miss a week?
There are several options if you are going out of town! You can have a friend or neighbor pick up your box for you, or you can let us know you'd like us to donate your box that week. We donate boxes to the International Institute of Minnesota, an organization which provides job training and educational programs for immigrants and refugees in the Twin Cities. Please give us a week's notice if you want us to donate your box.
Are there CSA community events?
Shared Ground offers free cooking classes for CSA members during the summer. In the past, these classes have included canning and preserving, cooking greens, knife skills, and more. We also typically have an end of season party at one of the farms. Whetstone Farm, one of Shared Ground's owner farms (Amery, WI), hosts periodic taco nights at the farm during the summer!