What is CSA?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a food system in which consumers directly support local food production. You can become a CSA member by purchasing a “share” of locally produced food in advance, which is then packed in a bag and delivered to you each week during the harvest season.
This upfront purchase supports the farmer with preseason expenses. For producers at Fresh Start Farms, expenses include seeds, soil amendments, machine and infrastructure repair, and purchases of tools and equipment. Farmers show their gratitude for your upfront commitment by packing weekly shares that are cost-effective and abundant, making the arrangement mutually beneficial.
What is in a Fresh Start Farms’ CSA share?
Our CSA is a weekly bag of vegetables. The vast majority of the vegetables that you will receive will be familiar, traditional American vegetables. Most of the farmers also choose to share one or two vegetables from their own farming traditions each season. Our CSA shares rarely include fruit and do not include dairy, eggs or meat. We encourage you to support other local farmers who do produce these items.
Who are the Fresh Start Farms producers?
Fresh Start Farms is a collective of new American farmers who have come to the US as refugees or immigrants and who wish to support their families with the age-old profession of farming. Each year, Cultivating Community supports about 25 farmers in adapting their skills to Maine’s climate and marketplace and launching independent farm businesses. Each Fresh Start Farms farmer grows vegetables on his or her own plot on either the Packard-Littlefield Farm in Lisbon or a small growing site in South Portland. Farmers pay Cultivating Community small fees for land access, equipment, the use of shared washing and packing facilities, and marketing services. Other than that, they keep their own revenues.
Where should I pick up my weekly shares?
Our website gives a full listing of possible pickup sites. If you would like to meet and talk to your farmer directly, a farm-stand or farmers’ market pick up site will be best for you. If your first priority is convenience, an office delivery might be the best choice for you. If you choose an office delivery, you will have minimal if any contact with your farmer.
What should my expectations be?
You should expect fresh vegetables that are 100% chemical free. This means produce is all-natural and sustainably grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. In all its food production programs, Cultivating Community engages in environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture.
How is being a member of the CSA different from shopping for vegetables at the grocery store?
Freshly harvested vegetables are often surprisingly more flavorful than what you can buy in the grocery store. We only supply what is fresh, ripe, and in-season. This means the vegetables you receive will change from week to week due to seasonality and weather. The first two weeks of the summer share will be chock full of salad and cooking greens. Farmers will pile tomatoes, peppers and eggplants into your bags in August and September. And in October, the winter squash will ripen! The CSA model enables consumers to learn about the growing season in Maine and to experiment with preparing a variety of veggies, aided by our weekly CSA newsletter with tips and tricks on how to store, cook and preserve your vegetables. Many of our customers say this is one of the best parts about the Fresh Start Farms CSA program.
How does buying a Fresh Start Farms CSA make a difference?
Our CSA program offers members of the public an opportunity to support the small- scale, locally-based food system instead of the massive, heavily subsidized industrial food system. Purchasing a Fresh Start Farms CSA share is a wonderful way to enter into a direct, two-way relationship with hardworking, small scale entrepreneurs who are manifesting the dream of supporting their families in America by doing what they love most: farming. In turn, you and your family can affordably enjoy a growing season full of the healthiest local vegetables available.
Please feel free to email us at [email protected] if you have questions that aren’t addressed here.