Community Supported Agriculture in RVA

RVA likes to mash-up, collaborate, and find mutually beneficial relationships in the startups that we support. It comes as no surprise that Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) continues to thrive in the River City where the bond between local farmers and the community is growing.

From strawberries to sugar snap peas and everything in between, a CSA is an alternative, locally-based economic model to agriculture. Made up of a network of farmers and individuals from the community, members of a CSA work together to grow, harvest, and distribute good, clean food to members and shareholders who pre-pay for an allotment of fresh produce.

The growth of CSA options here in Greater Richmond is representative of the increased numbers and size of CSAs across the country. The result: A stronger consumer-producer relationship has formed. And best of all, the food we’re consuming in Greater Richmond is getting tastier and tastier.

But how do you know which CSA to choose, how many people a “box” or “share” can actually feed, what to expect weekly, and where to pick up the increasing bounty of local options?

To help, we’ve rounded up a snapshot of several popular CSA options in the region. While certainly not an exhaustive listing, the sampling of farms below observes sustainable and educated farming practices, such as eliminating the use of pesticides or chemicals, herbicides, fungicides, or chemical fertilizers.

Amy’s Garden

amysorganicgarden.com

Among the first to champion community supported agriculture in Richmond and surrounding areas. Around since 2003, Amy’s still runs a “bulk” pay program for $550. This share is solely vegetables, fruit, and fresh flowers (for an additional charge).

Season: 16 weeks, $34/week, mid-May through mid-August, mid-September through mid-October

Example box: Strawberries, kale, cabbage, radishes, lettuces, pak choi Feeds: Easily two people all week with vegetable-heavy meals

Markets/Pick-up: South of the James Market, Byrd House Market

Crumptown Farm

crumptownfarm.com

Crumptown is a boutique CSA with only 50 available shares for the season. They specialize in heirloom vegetables and produce. Shares are available year-round for $675, just spring and summer for $375, and a mini/trial share for $225.

Season: 25 weeks, $15/week, mid-May through October

Example box: Asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, greens, kale/collards, leeks, lettuce (head), lettuce (mix), onions (bunching), peas (snow and snap), radishes, strawberries spinach, turnips

Feeds: Full share feeds two voraciously

Market/Pick-up: South of the James Market/Lakeside Farmers Market

Lar-Lyn Farms

lar-lynfarms.com

In Dillwyn, Virginia, Lar-Lyn Farms has used a “farmscription” model since 2011 as an alternative to CSA. Working with Virginia State University and Virginia Tech, Lar-Lyn Farm thought up a better way to offer a convenient and reasonable option that offered more flexibility and choices—from plan sizes to local produce selection. The model is laid out in quantities based on consumption: small, medium, and large.

Season: 20 weeks, $18/week, April through September

Feeds: Medium share feeds one to two people

Market/Pickup: West End Farmers Market

Origins Farm

originsfarm.com

Based in Hanover, Origins Farm CSA is unique and flexible, boasting two share options: $600 or $300. Pay the total of your shares upfront and simply pick up produce from their booth at Byrd House Farmers Market or St. Stephen’s Farmers Market during their CSA season

(May-December). For those who like to select their own produce, Origins Farm also allows members to use a CSA card to shop at will while keeping track of their balance and debiting their account each time a purchase is made at a market.

Season: 30 weeks

Market/Pick-up: Byrd House Farmers Market and St. Stephen’s Farmers Market

Red-Gate Farm

redgateof.blogspot.com

Located in Blackstone, Redgate was started in 2010 selling to Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market. Shares are available as a spring/summer share: full share for $525 and a half-share for $400.

Season: 22 weeks, $23/week, June through October

Example box: Collards, kale, cabbage, mustard greens, beets, spinach, carrots, turnips, radish, leeks

Feeds: One to two people

Market/Pick-up: Lakeside Farmers

Tomten Farm

tomtenfarmva.com

Another boutique CSA located in Green Bay, Virginia, Tomten offers 40 shares for the season. Shares are available as a spring-summer share (17 weeks), a fall share (10 weeks), a full season share (27 weeks), and a full season work share (27 weeks).

Season: 27 weeks, $22/week, May through November,

Example box: Napa cabbage, radish, carrots, salad mix, cilantro, scallions, varying greens, snap peas

Feeds: Easily feeds 2+ people

Market/Pick-up: Byrd House Farmers Market, South of the James Market

The Farm Bus from Farm to Family

thefarmbus.csaware.com

Community supported agriculture from several different local farms in and around Richmond. The Farm Bus compiles and curates shares weekly for a cost of $912. Farms include: Prospect Farm and Mt. Vernon Farm.

Season: 24 weeks, $38/week, prorated plans available, May

through October

Example box: Basil, carrots, kale, swiss chard, beets, mushrooms, onions, several bags of lettuces, peppers

Feeds: Two to three people, extremely generously

Markets/Pick-up: Farm-to-Family Market in Mechanicsville

Victory Farms

victoryfarmsinc.com

Victory is a debit system. Essentially, you pay $500 up front and are able to “spend it through the season.” You have access to the available produce at the farmer’s markets. Once you spend your “credit,” you receive produce at 10 percent off for the remainder of the season.

Season: 25 weeks, mid-May through mid-October

Markets/Pick-up: South of the James Market and Carytown Farmers Market

 

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Robey Martin is a restaurant reviewer and food blogger. Her work has appeared in Style Weekly, Richmond Magazine, Richmond Grid, and more.