Turnip for what? For local fruits and veggies!
Did you know that Michigan produces more than 300 different agricultural products on a commercial basis, like blueberries, cherries, cucumbers and floriculture products?
If you’re looking for a convenient way get your hands on local produce while supporting local farmers, try out Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs or produce delivery services.
CSA programs are a unique way to get farm-fresh produce, and often overlooked — they’re basically the OG subscription service before it was a thing. In short, farmers devote a portion of their produce as “shares” to the public. A share is usually a box of produce, but it might also include other farm items like honey, eggs or meats. You buy a share (or a half share) and then you pick up your box of produce each week. The contents vary inside from week to week — so it’s a fun way to try to out new fruits and veggies. However, unlike regular subscription boxes, there’s a shared risk in joining a CSA. Paying upfront for the whole season means that if the weather is bad or crops don’t yield as much as expected, members aren’t usually refunded. As Local Harvest explains, “the result is a feeling of ‘we’re in this together.’”
Coopersville-based Blackbird Farms has application forms for its CSA is up online. Produce can be picked up on Wednesday or Thursday evenings, and their season runs for 20-22 weeks, from June to October. $525 will get you a full share of produce. While the shares vary from week to week (weather and conditions depending), a large mid-season share might get you: One head of broccoli, two summer squash and zucchini, one bunch of beets, three peppers or two eggplants, one bunch of kale, one bunch of chard, two onions, one bunch parsley, cilantro, or dill, one kohlrabi, one head of lettuce, two tomatoes, one bunch basil and three pounds of potatoes. If you opt for a small share ($290), you’ll receive half of the large share. Deadline to register is May 31, 2018.
Located north of town, Earthkeeper Farm offers a work share, where CSA members help out at a set time each week for a minimum of four hours (like in the field, harvesting or at the farmers market). In exchange, they receive a share of produce. The season runs from May-October. Contact Rachelle at email@example.com for an application.
Blandford Nature Center
Did you know that your favorite nature center also offers a CSA? Blandford Farm has been growing chemical-free produce since 2010 in a 4,000-square-foot greenhouse. Their full-share (21 weeks of produce valued at $25) is the recommended size for a family, while the half-share is valued about $15 of produce a week (perfect for CSA newbies or couples). Prices vary depending on if you want to pick up your shares at the farm or a market — and Blandford Nature Center members get a discount on shares. The season runs from June to October. Deadline to register is June 4, 2018.
Green Wagon Farm
Green Wagon Farm, located in Ada, offers an extensive CSA program, from year-round to summer weekly or bi-weekly memberships. Choose from three different sizes (small: 4-6 veggies / medium: 8-10 veggies / large: 12-14 veggies). Green Wagon Farm features a unique “design-your-own-share” pick up, where members can choose from 15-20 vegetables and herbs based on a point system. Their summer season runs June to October.
New City Farm
New City Farm is an urban farm to provide job and life skills to local high school youth. They offer several different share options. Their main season runs from May 31 to Oct. 25, and you can extend your season by purchasing an additional share of produce from Nov. 1 to Dec. 13. One share not only gives you great local produce, but also it helps provide employment and training for 12 high school students. A 22-week full share costs $495 (good for a family of four) while a half-week share costs $295.
Based in Caledonia, Schuler Farms offers a 20-week CSA membership. Buying a share will get you organically grown produce from mid-May to the end of October. A full share is $550, while a half share rings in a $375. Opt to add eggs ($4.50) to cut out that extra grocery store run. Memberships are limited, and you can join by visiting their website.
Mud Lake Farm
Mud Lake Farm features a unique Salad CSA, highlighting its 40+ varietals of hydroponically grown lettuce. Because they grow year-round, they add new member all year long. A $25 signup fee and $5 a week gets you a pound of lettuce a week from spring to fall. Winter shares are a little smaller as the lettuce grows slower and the heads are smaller. We love that you’re emailed monthly statements rather than requiring a large up-front cost. Sign up and learn more at their website.
For folks for whom the CSA model isn’t a fit, try a produce delivery service like Doorganics. They partner with more than 50 farmers and producers to deliver a wide range of organic fruits and vegetables in a weekly produce box. The menu is posted online (and on their new mobile app) each Thursday, and you can swap out produce for other choices (like if you don’t like carrots but you love blackberries). You can also add other products like breads, cheeses and meats. Choose from small, medium or large produce bins, or all-fruit or all-veggie bins. Prices range from $29.99 to $39.99.
*Header photo courtesy of Green Wagon Farms